Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

U.Va. to Probe Milky Way History in Sloan Digital Sky Survey III

17.12.2008
A new project, the Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment, or APOGEE, will survey more than 100,000 Milky Way red giant stars — bright, bloated stars in a late stage of their evolution. APOGEE will provide enormous new insight to the processes that make stars and that drive the formation and evolution of galaxies.

Astronomy is a science of origins.

"It's the ultimate exercise in archeology," said Steven Majewski, a University of Virginia professor of astronomy and lead scientist on a new project to survey more than 100,000 Milky Way red giant stars — bright, bloated stars in a late stage of their evolution.

The project, the Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment, or APOGEE, is one of four experiments of the new Sloan Digital Sky Survey III, using the astronomical facilities at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. APOGEE was selected as a Sloan-III project through a competitive proposal led by U.Va. astronomers.

"The spectra of red giant stars contain the chemical and dynamical fingerprints needed to understand the assembly of our Milky Way galaxy," Majewski said. "Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, is a typical spiral galaxy and an important laboratory for gaining a detailed understanding of galaxies in general.

"APOGEE will be the first truly comprehensive study of the chemistry of Milky Way stars. With APOGEE, we will gain enormous insight to the processes that make stars and that drive the formation and evolution of galaxies."

Though red giants are extremely bright, those in distant parts of the Milky Way — like the center of our galaxy 25,000 light-years away — are largely obscured by massive clouds of interstellar dust scattered across the vastness of space. Because of these dust clouds, only a relatively small fraction of stars in the Milky Way can be observed in visible light.

Much more of our galaxy comes into view when astronomers use instruments that allow observations in the infrared. Infrared cameras and spectrographs observe light at wavelengths longer than visible light, allowing astronomers to peer through interstellar dust to detect the chemical makeup of stars and to calculate their motions and distances.

U.Va. astronomer Michael Skrutskie, an expert in the design of infrared cameras and spectrographs, is leading a U.Va. team in the design and construction of a unique instrument that will provide unprecedented information about the dynamics and chemical constitution of Milky Way stars.

His highly specialized spectrograph will be connected to a 2.5-meter telescope at Apache Point, allowing for detailed observation of 300 stars simultaneously. Majewski and other astronomers participating in the APOGEE project will observe thousands of red giants per clear night over the course of three years with the instrument.

"Currently, being able to observe 10 red giants per night at APOGEE's level of detail would be considered good," Majewski said.

U.Va. is trading expertise – and the new spectrograph – for membership in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III project, which is operated by the Astronomical Research Consortium, a group of universities conducting research at Apache Point Observatory. The $36 million Sloan-III project is supported by the Sloan Foundation, federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy, and by member institutions.

Skrutskie previously was principal investigator for the Two-Micron All Sky Survey, a major project that surveyed the entire sky in the infrared, providing a database of more than a billion stars and galaxies for astronomers to peruse.

That survey is helping Majewski to identify the 100,000 red giants the U.Va. team will investigate in much greater detail using Skrutskie's new spectrograph.

"APOGEE will inevitably create a lasting legacy of discovery," said U.Va. astronomy department chairman John Hawley.

Other projects of the Sloan-III survey, carried out by teams of astronomers from an international collaboration of universities and research organizations, will attempt to detect the effects of dark energy; map the stars of the Milky Way halo, and search for evidence of planets orbiting a sampling of 11,000 nearby stars.

The preceding Sloan-I and Sloan-II surveys have been widely regarded as the highest-impact astronomical projects of their time.

Fariss Samarrai | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.virginia.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Studying fundamental particles in materials
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

nachricht Seeing the quantum future... literally
16.01.2017 | University of Sydney

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: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>