Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Swift Makes Best-ever Ultraviolet Portrait of Andromeda Galaxy

18.09.2009
In a break from its usual task of searching for distant cosmic explosions, NASA's Swift satellite has acquired the highest-resolution view of a neighboring spiral galaxy ever attained in the ultraviolet. The galaxy, known as M31 in the constellation Andromeda, is the largest and closest spiral galaxy to our own.

"Swift reveals about 20,000 ultraviolet sources in M31, especially hot, young stars and dense star clusters," said Stefan Immler, a research scientist on the Swift team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Of particular importance is that we have covered the galaxy in three ultraviolet filters. That will let us study M31's star-formation processes in much greater detail than previously possible."

M31, also known as the Andromeda Galaxy, is more than 220,000 light-years across and lies 2.5 million light-years away. On a clear, dark night, the galaxy is faintly visible as a misty patch to the naked eye.

Between May 25 and July 26, 2008, Swift's Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope (UVOT) acquired 330 images of M31 at wavelengths of 192.8, 224.6, and 260 nanometers. The images represent a total exposure time of 24 hours.

The task of assembling the resulting 85 gigabytes of images fell to Erin Grand, an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland at College Park who worked with Immler as an intern this summer. "After ten weeks of processing that immense amount of data, I'm extremely proud of this new view of M31," she said.

Several features are immediately apparent in the new mosaic. The first is the striking difference between the galaxy's central bulge and its spiral arms. "The bulge is smoother and redder because it's full of older and cooler stars," Immler explained. "Very few new stars form here because most of the materials needed to make them have been depleted."

Dense clusters of hot, young, blue stars sparkle beyond the central bulge. As in our own galaxy, M31's disk and spiral arms contain most of the gas and dust needed to produce new generations of stars. Star clusters are especially plentiful in an enormous ring about 150,000 light-years across.

What triggers the unusually intense star formation in Andromeda's "ring of fire"? Previous studies have shown that tides raised by the many small satellite galaxies in orbit around M31 help boost the interactions within gas clouds that result in new stars.

In 1885, an exploding star in M31's central bulge became bright enough to see with the naked eye. This was the first supernova ever recorded in any galaxy beyond our own Milky Way. "We expect an average of about one supernova per century in galaxies like M31," Immler said. "Perhaps we won't have to wait too long for another one."

"Swift is surveying nearby galaxies like M31 so astronomers can better understand star- formation conditions and relate them to conditions in the distant galaxies where we see gamma-ray bursts occurring," said Neil Gehrels, the mission's principal investigator at NASA Goddard. Since Swift's November 2005 launch, the satellite has detected more than 400 gamma-ray bursts -- massive, far-off explosions likely associated with the births of black holes.

Swift is managed by NASA Goddard. It was built and is being operated in collaboration with Pennsylvania State University, the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and General Dynamics of Gilbert, Ariz., in the United States. International collaborators include the University of Leicester and Mullard Space Sciences Laboratory in the United Kingdom, Brera Observatory and the Italian Space Agency in Italy, and additional partners in Germany and Japan.

Francis Reddy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/swift/bursts/uv_andromeda.html

Further reports about: Andromeda Galaxy M31 Milky Way NASA Space black hole gamma-ray burst spiral arms ultraviolet

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Innovative LED High Power Light Source for UV
22.06.2017 | Omicron - Laserage Laserprodukte GmbH

nachricht Spin liquids − back to the roots
22.06.2017 | Universität Augsburg

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: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

Im Focus: Optoelectronic Inline Measurement – Accurate to the Nanometer

Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.

New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation

22.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

A rhodium-based catalyst for making organosilicon using less precious metal

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>