Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Astronomers pioneer a 'Google street view' of galaxies

Date:
July 23, 2014
Source:
University of Sydney
Summary:
A new instrument based on bundles of optical fibers is giving astronomers the first 'Google street view' of the cosmos -- incredibly detailed views of huge numbers of galaxies. The optical-fiber bundles can sample the light from up to 60 parts of a galaxy, for a dozen galaxies at a time.

A new home-grown instrument based on bundles of optical fibres is giving Australian astronomers the first 'Google street view' of the cosmos -- incredibly detailed views of huge numbers of galaxies.

Developed by researchers at the University of Sydney and the Australian Astronomical Observatory, the optical-fibre bundles can sample the light from up to 60 parts of a galaxy, for a dozen galaxies at a time.

By analysing the light's spectrum astronomers can learn how gas and stars move within each galaxy, where the young stars are forming and where the old stars live. This will allow them to better understand how galaxies change over time and what drives that change.

"It's a giant step," said Dr James Allen of the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics(CAASTRO) at the University of Sydney.

"Before, we could study one galaxy at a time in detail, or lots of galaxies at once but in much less detail. Now we have both the numbers and the detail."

The Australian team is now a year or two ahead of its international competition in this field. In just 64 nights it has gathered data on 1000 galaxies, twice as many as the previous largest project, and over the next two years it will study another 2000.

CAASTRO funding was crucial in helping the team gain its lead. "They had a great idea but it was going to take time to pull the resources together," said the organisation's director Professor Bryan Gaensler. "CAASTRO was able to get it happening fast."

Called SAMI (the Sydney-AAO Multi-Object Integral field spectrograph), the optical-fibre instrument was installed on the 4-m Anglo-Australian Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory in northwest NSW last year.

The technological leap is the 'hexabundle', sixty or more optical fibres close-packed and fused together, developed by the University of Sydney's astrophotonics group led by Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn.

Using the new instrument astronomers from the Australian National University and the University of Sydney have already spotted 'galactic winds' -- streams of charged particles travelling at up to 3,000 km a second -- from the centre of two galaxies.

"We've seen galactic winds in other galaxies, but we have no idea how common they really are, because we've never had the means to look for them systematically. Now we do," said the University of Sydney's Associate Professor Scott Croom, a Chief Investigator on the project.

The researchers are also uncovering the formation history of galaxies by looking to see if they are rotating in a regular way or if the movement of their stars is random and disordered.

"There are hints that galaxies with random motions sit at the centres of groups of galaxies, where many smaller galaxies may have fallen into them," said Dr Lisa Fogarty, a CAASTRO researcher at the University of Sydney who led this work.

On Thursday 24 July the researchers will release the first set of data from the instrument to the worldwide astronomical community and Dr Allen will give a related presentation at the annual scientific meeting of the Astronomical Society of Australia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Sydney. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Sydney. "Astronomers pioneer a 'Google street view' of galaxies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140723110936.htm>.
University of Sydney. (2014, July 23). Astronomers pioneer a 'Google street view' of galaxies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140723110936.htm
University of Sydney. "Astronomers pioneer a 'Google street view' of galaxies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140723110936.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

SpaceX's Elon Musk Really Wants To Colonize Mars

SpaceX's Elon Musk Really Wants To Colonize Mars

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) Elon Musk has been talking about his goal of colonizing Mars for years now, but how much of it does he actually have figured out, and is it possible? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
International Space Station Crew Returns Safely To Earth

International Space Station Crew Returns Safely To Earth

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) The three-man crew touched down in Kazakhstan Wednesday after more than five months of science experiments in orbit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) Two solar flares which erupted in our direction this week will arrive this weekend. The resulting solar storm will be powerful but not dangerous. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Flare Surges Off Sun

Solar Flare Surges Off Sun

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 11, 2014) NASA captures video of a significant flare surging off the sun. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins