Home / Space force / This Week in Astronomy Pictures: A Magnetic Whirlpool, Windblown Jets & More – Sky & Telescope

This Week in Astronomy Pictures: A Magnetic Whirlpool, Windblown Jets & More – Sky & Telescope

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In these tense occasions we dwell in, cosmic photographs can present some perspective. The pictures and visualizations under come from this week’s digital assembly of the American Astronomical Society and elsewhere.

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

Magnetic Whirlpool

Magnetic Whirlpool Galaxy
Magnetic discipline strains detected by the airborne SOFIA observatory are overlaid on a Hubble picture of the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51).
SOFIA streamlines: NASA / SOFIA science staff / A. Borlaff; background picture: NASA / ESA / S. Beckwith (STScI) / Hubble Heritage Crew (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 gentle in an effort to map out its magnetic discipline; the ensuing magnetic streamlines are proven above.

Whereas radio observations had proven that the magnetic discipline strains comply with the spiral construction within the interior components of the galaxy, SOFIA information reveals for the primary time that the magnetic discipline strains within the outer arms don’t comply with 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 most likely additionally performs a job.

— Monica Younger

Windblown Jets

Radio jet triptych
This triptych reveals 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 contributors together with her staff’s newest radio photographs of galaxies within the Perseus Cluster. Mendacity about 230 million light-years away, Perseus is the brightest cluster in 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 Giant Array in New Mexico, utilizing the array’s largest, highest-resolution configuration.

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

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

One other galaxy, NGC 1275, reveals advanced filaments that join its shiny 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 — perhaps a mixture 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 Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

— Camille M. Carlisle

A Moon-forming Disk?

Images reveal dust-enshrouded planet
These three photographs of the DH Tau system present how the central star’s gentle is subtracted to disclose the younger super-Jupiter DH Tau b, seen at decrease left. The rightmost body reveals 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 enormous world is not less than 11 occasions Jupiter’s mass and enormously removed from its star — 10 occasions 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 observe its formation in motion. The outcomes will seem in Astronomy & Astrophysics (online preprint available).

The sunshine is strongly polarized, which suggests the world’s glow should be scattering off mud particles. This mud doubtless surrounds the planet within the form of a disk, which suggests DH Tau b could possibly be within the technique 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 shaped at its excessive distance from the star, slightly than forming nearer in and migrating out. Meaning this huge world, which could even be huge sufficient to be a brown dwarf, would have collapsed immediately from the fuel cloud that shaped the central star, in the identical approach that binary stars type.

— Monica Younger

Streamers within the Milky Means Halo

Milky Way streams of stars
This 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 colour marks a unique stream. An interactive model of this determine is on the market on Adrian Price-Whelan’s website.
A. Worth-Whelan / A. Küpper / J. Diemand

The Milky Means has led a comparatively quiet life, with no main mergers with different huge galaxies thus far (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 embellish the halo surrounding our galactic disk. The Darkish Vitality Survey and the European House Company’s Gaia mission have now enabled astronomers to find these streams by the handfuls. The visualization above, drawn from a simulation, reveals simply what number of streams would possibly exist within the Milky Means halo.

Jhelum stream around the Milky Way
A knowledge-based visualization reveals the Jhelum stream (in orange), and another streams across the Milky Means. An interactive model of this determine is on the market on-line at Adrian Price-Whelan’s website.
A. Worth-Whelan

The Jhelum Stellar stream, proven in orange above, is among the most just lately found streams within the Milky Means’s interior halo. Along with Gaia information, Allyson Sheffield (LaGuardia Group Faculty) 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 selected 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 release.

— Monica Younger


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