Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Movie of a galaxy far, far away

27.03.2002


An artist’s impression of the core of NGC 1068 as seen from earth.
© Gemini Observatory


Astronomers shoot first film of the stars, dust and gas at the centre of a galaxy.

Astronomers have made their first movie of the roiling mass of stars, dust and gas at the centre of a galaxy.

The movie zooms into the disk of saucer-shaped galaxy NGC 1068 and through its super-bright core. It reveals an energetic region of space created by material flying out of the suspected black hole at the centre and crashing back into the disk. This region appears as a pale blue cloud far from the centre.



"You can see the distribution of matter and how it’s moving, across the whole galaxy," says one of the team, Roger Davies at the University of Durham, UK.

Davis and colleagues stared into the heavens with a device like an insect’s compound eye, called the Integral Field Unit (IFU). They attached this to the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii (GMOS) and pointed the combination at NGC 1068, a galaxy 70 million light years away in the constellation Cetus, the whale.

The movement of matter at the heart of galaxies is crucial to understanding how they work. "We need to measure the mass of what’s in the middle," says Davies. Most are thought to harbour black holes there. The speed of stuff spinning around should show how much galaxies weigh, and how much energy escapes or goes into making stars.

Wide shot

The same galaxy was recently studied with the Hubble space telescope1. But Hubble can only record how matter is moving along a very narrow slice of a galaxy - albeit at very high resolution.

Hubble sees where matter is by measuring the brightness of light along a slit. The light’s wavelengths can also tell astronomers whether the matter producing the light is moving towards or away from us.

GMOS coupled with IFU uses this same technique but over a whole galaxy. "Large ground-based telescopes like Gemini are the perfect complement to Hubble because they collect so much more light," says Gerald Cecil, an astronomer at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill who carried out the Hubble measurements.

An image of the galaxy from the Gemini telescope is focused on an array of fibre-optic cables thinner than a human hair. Each of these records a slit of light from part of the image. Combining these gives a series of three-dimensional pictures from which an animation can be constructed.

References

  1. Cecil, G. et al. Spatial Resolution of High-Velocity Filaments in the Narrow-Line Region of NGC 1068: Associated Absorbers Caught in Emission?. Astrophysical Journal, In the press (2002).

TOM CLARKE | © Nature News Service

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Subnano lead particles show peculiar decay behavior
25.04.2018 | Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität Greifswald

nachricht Getting electrons to move in a semiconductor
25.04.2018 | American Institute of Physics

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Getting electrons to move in a semiconductor

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Reconstructing what makes us tick

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Cheap 3-D printer can produce self-folding materials

25.04.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>