AMAZING SHOTS!

Astronomers show new HD images of glaxies.

Astronomers have captured some of the most detailed images ever seen of galaxies in deep space.

They are in much higher definition than normal and reveal the inner workings of galaxies in unprecedented detail.

Many of the images could yield insights into the role of black holes in star and planet formation.

The researchers say that the pictures will transform our understanding of how galaxies evolve.

The images are of the radio waves emitted by the galaxies. Researchers often study the radio waves from astronomical objects rather than the visible light they give off because it enables them to see things that would otherwise be blocked by the Earth’s atmosphere or dust and gas in faraway galaxies.

Many regions of space that are dark to our eyes, actually burn brightly in the radio waves they give off. This allows astronomers to peer into star-forming regions or into the heart of galaxies.

What is new is that the team has dramatically improved the resolution of radio images by linking together more than 70,000 small antennae spread across nine European counties.

Combining radio signals from so many antennas is not a straight-forward process. The team has spent six years developing a completely new way of collecting the signal from each antenna, digitising it, transporting it to a to central processor, and then combining all the data into images that are not only of enormous scientific interest but also of great beauty.

The accomplishment is a technical tour de force and was led by Dr Leah Morabito from Durham University, UK.

“To work on the data for so long, and then to finally get such images and be able be the first person to see what it looks like is just incredible,” she told BBC News.

“I walked around with a huge smile on my face for the rest of the day, because I felt so proud that I was able to make these images and be able to see something nobody had ever seen before”.

The image at the top of the page was produced by a member of Dr Morabito’s team. It shows a galaxy that is barely visible, sitting in the middle of jets of material in orange, shooting out from either side, each one much larger than the galaxy itself.

The jets are caused by a supermassive black hole at the heart of the galaxy- an object with such strong gravity not even light can escape. It normally sucks in material – but the inward pull also creates forces around the black hole that result in material being spat out, far into space.

Such jets have been observed before – but astronomers have obtained new scientific information from the dark bands on the jet on the right, which have not been seen before. These, the astronomers believe, represent periods of relative inactivity by the black hole – when it spits out less material. The image therefore gives researchers an insight into the black hole’s “sleep cycle”.

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1 Response to AMAZING SHOTS!

  1. txnick77 says:

    What is truly mind-boggling is that what we see in those images are millions of years old. The is no way we can tell what that area of space looks like today.

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