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FEATURED: Stunning images of ‘galactic fireworks’ hold the secrets of how stars form #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – July.20: Yet we’ve barely been able to observe the mysterious life cycles of galaxies beyond our own…….

#AceDailyNews says …Galaxies are unfathomably huge, dynamic beasts made up of stars that burst into and out of life in cosmic blinks of an eye as spectacular images of galaxies just next door to the Milky Way, captured by an international team of astronomers, are allowing us to do exactly that.

Saturday 17 Jul 2021 at 12:47am

Image of galaxy
The beautiful colours in this image allow astronomers to pinpoint newly formed stars.(Supplied: ESO/PHANGS)

To the trained eye, every golden spark and purple haze contained in these “galactic fireworks” pinpoint where new stars are emerging and reveal the intricate processes that shape their birth.

“We’re seeing if we can capture the life cycle of a star, just like you capture the life cycle of creatures here on Earth,” said team member Brent Groves, astronomer at the University of Western Australia. 

“Each pixel contains a whole rainbow of information.”

Capturing stars being born

While astronomers know that new stars emerge from clouds of cold gas, they haven’t been able to observe this process in detail or figure out how it occurs. 

The new images were taken as part of the Physics at High Angular Resolution in Nearby GalaxieS (PHANGS) survey, which observes nearby galaxies to understand the processes behind star formation. 

Each image is essentially a composite of images that capture nearby galaxies in different wavelengths. 

And the results are breathtaking.

Image of galaxy
The golden specks of light in the spiral galaxy NGC 3627 are signatures of new stars.(Supplied: ESO/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/PHANGS)

The orange tones represent clouds of molecular gas, the raw material from which stars form, while the darker brown patches indicate the presence of interstellar dust. 

“Like smoke from bushfires, this dust makes stars darker and redder,” Dr Groves said.

When stars are first born, they heat up the cold gas around them, creating warm clouds of charged hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen.

This process is represented by the bright spots of gold in the images. 

On the other hand, the bluish tones are the signatures of stars that have already formed.   

Image of Messier 61 galaxy
The blue tones in Messier 61 or NGC 4303, a galaxy around 52 million light years away, indicate the presence of older stars.(Supplied: ESO/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/PHANGS))

“The bluer the light, the more massive the stars that are there,” Dr Groves said.

“And because big stars burn bright and die young, it means you’re seeing regions where stars have recently formed.”

Peering into our galactic neighbours

The images also reveal how diverse these nearby galaxies are, said team member Rebecca McElroy, an astronomer at  the University of Sydney.

“There’s enormous diversity. It’s overwhelming,” Dr McElroy said.

For instance, the NGC 1300 galaxy, located 65 million light years away in the Eridanus constellation, looks relatively sparse compared to the others.

Image of spiral arm galaxy
Star formation in the NGC 1300 galaxy is concentrated along its spiral arms, as shown by the golden specks of light.(Supplied: ESO/PHANGS)

This tells astronomers that there isn’t as much gas hanging around in the galaxy, with most of its stars forming along the spiral arms on the outer edges.

In contrast, the soft golden glow throughout NGC 1087, which sits 80 million light years away in Cetus, reveals that it’s rich in star-forming gas clouds.

Image of galaxy
The NGC 1087 galaxy contains an abundance of gas clouds — the material that forms new stars. (Supplied: ESO/PHANGS)

How did they get the images?

The team combined observations taken by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. 

With ALMA’s 66 radio telescopes, the researchers were able to map about 100,000 cold-gas regions across 90 nearby galaxies, creating a detailed atlas of nearby stellar nurseries — the birthplaces of new stars.

Radio wavelength images of galaxies
ALMA uses radio telescopes to detect cold gas regions in galaxies, shown in orange.(Supplied: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/ESA/NASA/PHANGS, S. Dagnello (NRAO))

The secret to the incredible detail in the images is a bizarre looking instrument called the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE), which is attached to the VLT.

“It looks like one of the monster robots from The Matrix,” Dr McElroy said. 

Machine with tubes
The MUSE instrument allows astronomers to see the elements present in stars.(Supplied: ESO)

This instrument splits light into its component parts, just like a window that separates a beam of sunlight into a rainbow on the wall.

These “bar codes” of light, or spectra, represent different chemical elements. 

“We can analyse the ‘rainbow’ and see what elements are emitted by that galaxy,” Dr McElroy said.

In this survey, MUSE observed 30,000 clouds of warm gas and collected about 15 million spectra of different galactic regions.

The next step for the team is to begin zooming in on some of the features in the images to take a closer look at what’s going on in our galactic neighbours.

In addition to peering into the star formation process, Dr Groves said that the reams of information in each image could tell astronomers about how certain elements are spread across galaxies.

“The data is just so rich,” Dr Groves said. 

Dr McElroy’s eyes will be focused on the centre of these galaxies to learn more about their supermassive black holes.

“They’re all very weird and wonderful,” Dr McElroy said.

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: July.20: 2021:

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(WORLDWIDE) FEATURED: A giant star is blinking near the center of our Milky Way galaxy like a stellar beacon, according to new observations by astronomers. The star is located more than 25,000 light-years away from Earth #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – June.15: This companion is likely surrounded by a disk of material that cloaks the giant star, causing the blinking pattern witnessed by astronomers:

Giant blinking star spotted near center of Milky Way galaxy: Known as VVV-WIT-08, the star dimmed so much that it almost disappeared from view as astronomers observed it over time.

Milky Way new photo galaxy orig vstan dlewis_00000000

It’s not uncommon for a star’s brightness factor to change. Some stars pulsate, or one star within a stellar pair, called a binary, can be eclipsed by another. But it is incredibly rare for a star to grow faint and brighten again, or blink.

New NASA photo shows our galaxy's 'violent energy'
The observation of this star has led researchers to believe that it may belong to a new class: a “blinking giant” binary star system. This class includes giant stars a hundred times larger than our sun being eclipsed every few decades or so by an unseen companion, which could be a planet or another star.

This is an artist’s impression of VVV-WIT-08, a giant ‘blinking’ star near the center of the Milky Way.The study published Friday in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

This is an artist's impression of VVV-WIT-08, a giant 'blinking' star near the center of the Milky Way.

The center of our galaxy is a dense region that includes a supermassive black hole, superclusters of stars, streams of gas and magnetic filaments.

“It’s amazing that we just observed a dark, large and elongated object pass between us and the distant star, and we can only speculate what its origin is,” said Sergey Koposov, study coauthor and reader in observational astronomy at the University of Edinburgh, in a statement.

Finnish astrophotographer spends 12 years creating a Milky Way mosaic

At first, the researchers speculated that an unknown dark object passed in front of the giant star, but that would only be possible if there were a large number of these objects in the galaxy, which is unlikely.

A study of other such unique star systems including giant stars that dim and brighten, or showcase this blinking pattern, helped the researchers determine that a new class of blinking giant stars may exist and need to be investigated. So far, it appears there are around six such systems.

The star system in this study was found using the VISTA Variables in the Via Lactea, or VVV survey. This project, utilizing the VISTA telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile, has observed 1 billion stars for almost a decade to see how they vary in brightness.

New Milky Way map reveals a wave of stars in our galaxy's outer reaches

“Occasionally we find variable stars that don’t fit into any established category, which we call ‘what-is-this?’, or ‘WIT’ objects,” said Philip Lucas, VISTA project lead and professor at the University of Hertfordshire, in a statement. “We really don’t know how these blinking giants came to be. It’s exciting to see such discoveries from VVV after so many years planning and gathering the data.”

The star’s dimming was also observed using the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment, or OGLE, a sky survey run by the University of Warsaw. The data sets from both surveys showed that the star dimmed equally in both infrared and visible light. 

Astronomers will continue to search for more of these giant blinking star systems to learn more about them.

“There are certainly more to be found, but the challenge now is in figuring out what the hidden companions are, and how they came to be surrounded by discs, despite orbiting so far from the giant star,” said Leigh Smith, discovery lead and research associate in the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy, in a statement. “In doing so, we might learn something new about how these kinds of systems evolve.”

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: Jun.15: 2021:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports by and all our posts, also links can be found at here for Twitter and Live Feeds and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com