Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rutgers, Chilean astrophysicists discover new galaxy clusters revealed by cosmic 'shadows'

02.11.2010
Team uses observations from powerful radio telescope in high Andean desert; results will help scientists understand how universe is evolving

An international team of scientists led by Rutgers University astrophysicists have discovered 10 new massive galaxy clusters from a large, uniform survey of the southern sky. The survey was conducted using a breakthrough technique that detects "shadows" of galaxy clusters on the cosmic microwave background radiation, a relic of the "big bang" that gave birth to the universe.

In a paper published in the Nov. 10 issue of Astrophysical Journal, the Rutgers scientists and collaborators at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (PUC) describe their visual telescope observations of these galaxy clusters, which were essential to verify the cosmic shadow sightings. Both observations will help scientists better understand how the universe was born and continues to evolve.

The research began in 2008 with a new radio telescope in the Atacama Desert of Chile – one of the driest places on Earth. The instrument, known as the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT), collects millimeter-length radio waves that reveal images of the otherwise invisible cosmic background radiation. Millimeter waves are easily blocked by water vapor, hence the telescope's home high in the Andes Mountains of northern Chile, where there is barely any atmospheric moisture.

"The groundbreaking observations at Atacama, led by Lyman Page of Princeton University, surveyed large areas of the sky to reveal shadows that pointed astronomers to these previously unseen massive galaxy clusters," said Felipe Menanteau, a research scientist in physics and astronomy, School of Arts and Sciences, at Rutgers.

Theorists Rashid Sunyaev and Yakov Zel'dovich predicted the shadow phenomenon 40 years ago, now known as the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect, or S-Z effect. Shortly thereafter astronomers verified it by observing shadows cast by previously known galaxy clusters. The higher sensitivity and resolution of ACT now makes it practical for astronomers to essentially reverse the procedure – to search the cosmic background radiation for shadows that indicate the presence of unseen clusters.

"The 'shadows' that ACT revealed are not shadows in the traditional sense, as they are not caused by the galaxy clusters blocking light from another source," said Jack Hughes, professor of physics and astronomy at Rutgers. "Rather, the hot gases within the galaxy clusters cause a tiny fraction of the cosmic background radiation to shift to higher energies, which then makes them appear as shadows in one of ACT's observing bands."

Cosmic background radiation was first observed by two Bell Labs astronomers in New Jersey back in the 1960s, a discovery that earned them the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1978.

Hughes and Menanteau worked with Chilean professors Leopoldo Infante and Felipe Barrientos to collect optical images of dozens of candidates, which led to the discovery of ten entirely new massive galaxy clusters. The Rutgers and PUC team, which also included PUC undergraduate student Jorge González, worked on two optical telescopes in Chile over the course of seven nights during October and December of 2009.

"We knew the experiment was working when we could see the giant clusters clearly, even in the raw images as they came through the telescope," said Menanteau.

"The technical challenges involved in exploiting the S-Z technique are daunting, and it is fantastic to see this method working so well," said Priyamvada Natarajan, professor of astronomy and physics at Yale University and a leading theoretical cosmologist not affiliated with the study. "It will build our inventory of the most massive and distant clusters in the universe, which will provide important constraints on the currently accepted cosmological model. I am personally excited to see the large number of strong lensing clusters that ACT is turning up."

The Rutgers and PUC observations were funded by the National Science Foundation's Partnerships for International Research and Education, in an award to Princeton with sub-awards to Rutgers and the University of Pennsylvania. The astronomers carried out their optical observations on the SOAR telescope in Cerro Pachón and the NTT in La Silla. The Atacama Cosmology Telescope project is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Carl Blesch | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rutgers.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR
24.05.2018 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science

nachricht Nuclear physicists leap into quantum computing with first simulations of atomic nucleus
24.05.2018 | DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | 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

 
Latest News

When corals eat plastics

24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Surgery involving ultrasound energy found to treat high blood pressure

24.05.2018 | Medical Engineering

First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR

24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>