Science & technology
Astronomers study remote outcrops of faraway galaxy
Publish Date: Jul 23, 2014
Astronomers study remote outcrops of faraway galaxy
A handout photo released on July 21, 2014 showing the elliptical galaxy Centaurus A. AFP PHOTO / ESA/Hubble, NASA, Digitized Sky Survey, MPG/ESO / Davide de Martin
  • mail
  • img
newvision

PARIS- Astronomers said Tuesday they have examined the remotest parts yet of an elliptical galaxy, Centaurus A, and discovered its starry halo was bigger, more lopsided and richer in heavy elements than expected.

The Hubble Space Telescope, a joint project of NASA and the European Space Agency, scanned the outskirts of the giant galaxy from its position in low Earth orbit, using ultra-sensitive onboard cameras.

At a distance of over 12 million light years, Centaurus A is nevertheless one of the closer galaxies to Earth.

Hubble mapped a region about 450,000 light years of the galaxy's length, and about 295,000 light years of its width -- and it still hasn't reached the halo's outer edge.

"These are large distances if you consider that the main visible component of the Milky Way is around 120,000 light years in diameter," said an ESA press statement.

Galaxies have a bright, glowing centre surrounded by swirling, spiral arms or a disk-shaped fuzz made up of dust, gas, stars and dark matter, which are in turn surrounded by dim halos of stars.

Little is known about these halos because of their faint and spread-out nature.

Now Hubble has revealed that Centaurus A's halo extends much deeper into space from the galaxy's centre than had been believed, and that it has a weird shape.

"We found more stars scattered in one direction than the other, giving the halo a lopsided shape -- which we hadn't expected," said study co-author Marina Rejkuba of the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany.

"Tracing this much of a galaxy's halo gives us surprising insights into galaxy formation, evolution and composition," she added.

Using the Hubble data, the research team also found elements heavier than hydrogen and helium in the gas that made up the stars within the halo.

The stars in halos of the Milky Way and other nearby spiral galaxies are generally low in heavy elements.

Related Stories

German astronomers to view eclipse in Uganda

NASA identifies three potential asteroids for capture

Astronomers discover Earth-like planet

 

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Sex traffickers
Gangs are using social media sites such as Facebook to lure young women into crime and prostitution....
Uganda holds inaugural social media summit
KAMPALA - Arrangements are in high gear for Uganda’s inaugural Social Media Summit. The summit, that aims to bring together over 250 delegates from government, SMEs, corporate and Non-Governmental entities, is organised in coordination with the Directorate of Information and National Guidance in th...
Huawei, MTN introduce affordable smartphones
A leading global ICT solutions provider, Huawei technologies and telecom giant MTN have teamed up to introduce entry level smart phones in Uganda this festive season....
Internet access should be a human right
Affordable access to the Internet should be a human right, as it represents hope for economic prosperity, shows a survey....
Denmark is world
Denmark has overtaken South Korea as the world's top country for cellphone and Internet use, a new study says....
Blockbuster military shooter video game "Call of Duty" has blasted past $10 billion in lifetime sales, propelled by demand for the latest installment in the 11-year-old franchise....
Should Govt lease parts of Lake Victoria to private developers?
Its Ok
No Way
Not Sure
follow us
subscribe to our news letter