Tracing the Cigar Galaxy’s Superwind

March 8, 2019 - Comment

NASA’s SOFIA airborne observatory returns a placing far-infrared view of the Cigar Galaxy and its “galactic superwind.” The Cigar Galaxy (M82), a spiral galaxy seen edge-on, is burning with new stars. They kind at a fee ten instances sooner than the Milky Means and push mud and fuel out of the galaxy in a “superwind.”


NASA’s SOFIA airborne observatory returns a placing far-infrared view of the Cigar Galaxy and its “galactic superwind.”

The Cigar Galaxy (M82), a spiral galaxy seen edge-on, is burning with new stars. They kind at a fee ten instances sooner than the Milky Means and push mud and fuel out of the galaxy in a “superwind.” This neat new picture from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) exhibits how the wind is dragging the galaxy’s magnetic area proper together with it.

Cigar Galaxy's Galactic Superwind

A composite picture of the Cigar Galaxy (M82) exhibits the magnetic area detected by the HAWC+ instrument onboard SOFIA. Displayed as streamlines, the magnetic area seems to comply with the bipolar outflows (purple) generated by the extraordinary starbirth within the heart of the galaxy. The picture combines seen starlight (grey) and a tracing of hydrogen fuel (purple) noticed from the Kitt Peak Observatory, with near-infrared and mid-infrared starlight and dirt (yellow) noticed by SOFIA and the Spitzer Area Telescope.
NASA / SOFIA / E. Lopez-Rodiguez; NASA / Spitzer / J. Moustakas et al.

The Cigar Galaxy is the archetypal starburst galaxy, having skilled two current spates of star formation. One occurred10 million years in the past in its nucleus, and one other sprang up 5 million years in the past in a hoop across the galaxy’s core. This froth of starbirth drives a so-called galactic superwind: mud, fuel, and radiation that movement out of the galaxy and into intergalactic area.

To look at this wind, Terry Jay Jones (College of Minnesota) and colleagues utilized for time on NASA’s SOFIA airborne observatory, which soars above a lot of the environment that may soak up the infrared mild it’s designed to gather. A modified Boeing 747 flies the two.7-meter telescope in no matter careening trajectories are essential to finest view its targets that night time.

Jones and colleagues used the Excessive-resolution Airborne Wideband Digital camera-plus (HAWC+) instrument aboard SOFIA to look at far-infrared mild (at wavelengths of 53 and 154 microns) coming from the Cigar Galaxy. Sizzling mud inside big, gaseous star-factory clouds emits this mild. However mud isn’t completely spherical; mud grains are typically rectangular, and so they are inclined to align with the ambient magnetic area that threads the galaxy. So the emission from these mud grains is polarized in a means that tells astronomers which means the magnetic area is pointing.

What Jones’s crew discovered was that inside 2,000 light-years of the galaxy’s heart, the wind that prices into intergalactic area carries the galaxy’s magnetic area together with it. The polarization within the picture above exhibits that the magnetic area is just about vertical on this central area. Outdoors this area, the magnetic area is horizontal, threading the aircraft of the galaxy.

None of this can be a shock — the observations fall according to what Jones’s crew anticipated to see. On the similar time, the observations present a helpful clue, as astronomers don’t perceive precisely how galaxies blow out such winds. All starburst galaxies appear to have superwinds just like the one coming from the Cigar, so the extraordinary star formation should be concerned however the mechanism stays unclear. These observations — along with offering a placing view of the Cigar Galaxy not obtainable by your normal yard telescope — will assist astronomers puzzle aside wind-driving mechanisms.



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