#astronomy This Week in Astronomy Footage: A Magnetic Whirlpool, Windblown Jets & Extra – Sky & Telescope

January 16, 2021 - Comment

In these irritating instances we dwell in, cosmic photos can present some perspective. The photographs and visualizations beneath come from this week’s digital assembly of the American Astronomical Society and elsewhere. Give your self a break: Take a stroll by the Milky Means halo, peruse the Whirlpool Galaxy’s magnetic subject, spot an exoplanet’s moon-forming disk,


In these irritating instances we dwell in, cosmic photos can present some perspective. The photographs and visualizations beneath come from this week’s digital assembly of the American Astronomical Society and elsewhere.

Give your self a break: Take a stroll by the Milky Means halo, peruse the Whirlpool Galaxy’s magnetic subject, spot an exoplanet’s moon-forming disk, and admire the windblown jets powered by distant supermassive black holes.

Magnetic Whirlpool

Magnetic Whirlpool GalaxyMagnetic subject traces detected by the airborne SOFIA observatory are overlaid on a Hubble picture of the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51).
SOFIA streamlines: NASA / SOFIA science workforce / A. Borlaff; background picture: NASA / ESA / S. Beckwith (STScI) / Hubble Heritage Staff (STScI / AURA)

The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51), 31 million light-years away within the constellation Canes Venatici, is a delight to look at. Now, NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has imaged the galaxy’s polarized mild with the intention to map out its magnetic subject; the ensuing magnetic streamlines are proven above.

Whereas radio observations had proven that the magnetic subject traces observe the spiral construction within the internal elements of the galaxy, SOFIA information exhibits for the primary time that the magnetic subject traces within the outer arms don’t observe the identical order. Intense star formation in these outer areas could also be inflicting magnetic chaos, and the gravitational tug of neighboring galaxy NGC 5195 in all probability additionally performs a task.

— Monica Younger

Windblown Jets

Radio jet triptychThis triptych exhibits galaxies NGC 1275 (left), NGC 1265 (middle), and IC 310 (proper).
M. Gendron-Marsolais et al. / S. Dagnello (NRAO / AUI / NSF) / Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Marie-Lou Gendron-Marsolais (European Southern Observatory, Chile) wowed individuals together with her workforce’s newest radio photos of galaxies within the Perseus Cluster. Mendacity about 230 million light-years away, Perseus is the brightest cluster within the X-ray sky and a long-studied goal at a number of wavelengths. The astronomers collected the brand new high-resolution observations with the Karl G. Jansky Very Massive Array in New Mexico, utilizing the array’s largest, highest-resolution configuration.

Among the many outcomes are spellbinding photos of bent jets, swept again from the galaxies’ cores like streamers billowing behind the galaxies as they plunge by the recent fuel filling the cluster. Astronomers had thought that one of many galaxies, IC 310, had solely a single, lengthy tail, however the brand new photos reveal there are two jets, bent again and seen at an angle that makes it exhausting to tease them aside.

Slide: Windblown jetsMarie-Lou Gendron-Marsolais (ESO) offered an in depth clarification for the jets’ interplay with their surroundings on the AAS assembly.

One other galaxy, NGC 1275, exhibits complicated filaments that join its vivid jets to an extended, curlicue path that has puzzled astronomers since first found in 1998. It’s nonetheless unclear why the tail has the form it does — possibly a mix of our viewing angle and twisting by shocks within the surrounding fuel, Gendron-Marsolais mentioned throughout her presentation on January 12th. The outcomes additionally seem within the December 2020 Month-to-month Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

— Camille M. Carlisle

A Moon-forming Disk?

Images reveal dust-enshrouded planetThese three photos of the DH Tau system present how the central star’s mild is subtracted to disclose the younger super-Jupiter DH Tau b, seen at decrease left. The rightmost body exhibits the system’s polarization: DH Tau b itself is strongly polarized, which suggests it is enshrouded in mud.
ESO / VLT / SPHERE / Van Holstein et al.

Astronomers first found a super-Jupiter orbiting the star DH Tau, pictured above, in a picture taken in 2004. The large world is a minimum of 11 instances Jupiter’s mass and enormously removed from its star — 10 instances farther out than Neptune is from the Solar. However at simply 2 million years outdated, it is so younger that it nonetheless glows from the warmth of its formation.

Now, Rob van Holstein (Leiden College and European Southern Observatory) and colleagues have measured the polarization of this infrared glow to look at its formation in motion. The outcomes will seem in Astronomy & Astrophysics (on-line preprint obtainable).

The sunshine is strongly polarized, which implies the world’s glow have to be scattering off mud particles. This mud probably surrounds the planet within the form of a disk, which implies DH Tau b may very well be within the strategy of forming moons — although in fact any moons round this planet stay unseen.

In one other shock, the disk is misaligned with the one that continues to be across the central star, so the researchers suppose DH Tau b fashioned at its excessive distance from the star, moderately than forming nearer in and migrating out. Which means this huge world, which could even be huge sufficient to be a brown dwarf, would have collapsed instantly from the fuel cloud that fashioned the central star, in the identical approach that binary stars type.

— Monica Younger

Streamers within the Milky Means Halo

Milky Way streams of starsThis picture is a visualization not of actual information, however a simulation of tons of of streams of stars in a Milky Means-like halo. Every shade marks a distinct stream. An interactive model of this determine is out there on Adrian Worth-Whelan’s web site.
A. Worth-Whelan / A. Küpper / J. Diemand

The Milky Means has led a comparatively quiet life, with no main mergers with different huge galaxies to this point (the approaching collision with the Andromeda Galaxy however.)

Even so, our galaxy has had its justifiable share of social visits from dwarf satellites and star clusters. As these stellar clumps have fallen into the Milky Means, tidal forces pulled them aside into spaghetti-like streams that now adorn the halo surrounding our galactic disk. The Darkish Power Survey and the European Area Company’s Gaia mission have now enabled astronomers to find these streams by the handfuls. The visualization above, drawn from a simulation, exhibits simply what number of streams would possibly exist within the Milky Means halo.

Jhelum stream around the Milky WayA knowledge-based visualization exhibits the Jhelum stream (in orange), and another streams across the Milky Means. An interactive model of this determine is out there on-line at Adrian Worth-Whelan’s web site.
A. Worth-Whelan

The Jhelum Stellar stream, proven in orange above, is among the most not too long ago found streams within the Milky Means’s internal halo. Along with Gaia information, Allyson Sheffield (LaGuardia Group School) and colleagues made use of the APOGEE survey to find out the composition of the celebrities and thus assist slim down their origin. Whereas they weren’t capable of tie the stream to a particular galactic merger, they did set up that it wasn’t a part of the Gaia-Enceladus dwarf that got here crashing into our galaxy some 9 billion years in the past.

Learn extra in regards to the end result within the SDSS press launch.

— Monica Younger

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