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Largest near-infrared image enables search for extraordinary galaxies

Largest near-infrared image enables search for extraordinary galaxies
Written by insideindyhomes

Largest near-infrared image enables search for extraordinary galaxies
editorial staff
/ Press release from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy
astronews.com
June 8, 2022

An international team has now released the largest near-infrared image ever taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. It makes it possible to map the star-forming regions of the Universe and learn how the earliest and most distant galaxies formed. Interesting targets for the space telescope could also be found in the survey James Webb Find.


Galaxies observed by the 3D-DASH program, created with Hubble 3D-DASH/F160W and ACS-COSMOS/F814W images.

Picture: Lamiya Mowla [Großansicht]

“Since its launch more than 30 years ago, the Hubble Space Telescope has sparked a renaissance in studying the evolution of galaxies over the last 10 billion years of the Universe,” said Lamiya Mowla, Dunlap Fellow at Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the University of Toronto. “The 3D DASH program enhances the legacy of Hubble in terms of wide-angle imaging, to the extent that we can begin to unravel the mysteries of the galaxies beyond our own.”

The high-resolution survey, dubbed 3D-DASH, offers researchers for the first time a full near-infrared survey of the entire COSMOS field, one of the richest datasets for extragalactic studies outside the Milky Way. Since the near infrared is the longest and reddest wavelength that Hubble
observable – just beyond what is visible to the human eye – astronomers can better discern the earliest and most distant galaxies.

Also, they have to search a large area of ​​the sky to find rare objects in the universe. Until now, such a large image was only available from the ground and suffered from poor resolution, limiting viewing opportunities. 3D-DASH will help identify unique phenomena such as the most massive galaxies in the universe, highly active black holes and galaxies on the verge of colliding and merging with each other.


“I’m curious about giant galaxies, the most massive galaxies in the universe, formed by the merger of other galaxies. How did their structures evolve and what changed their shape?” says Mowla, who started as a 2015 PhD student at the Yale University started the project. “It was difficult to study these extremely rare events with existing images, and that was the rationale behind the design of this major survey.”

To image such a vast area of ​​sky, the team used a new technique Hubble one that as Drift And Shift (DASH) is known. DASH produces an image eight times larger than the standard field of view Hubbleby taking multiple shots, which are then stitched together to create an overall mosaic, similar to taking a panoramic picture with a smartphone.

DASH is also acquiring images faster than the usual method, taking eight images per Hubble orbit instead of a single image, achieving in 250 hours what previously would have taken 2000 hours. “3D-DASH adds a new layer of unique observations to the COSMOS field and is also a stepping stone for the space surveys of the next decade,” explains Ivelina Momcheva, Head of Data Science at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg and lead scientist on the study . “It gives us a foretaste of future scientific discoveries and allows us to develop new techniques to analyze these large data sets.”

3D-DASH covers a total area almost six times the size of the moon in the sky as seen from Earth. This record will probably not be broken by Hubble’s successor, JWST. This was built more for sensitive close-ups, to capture fine detail of a small area. It’s the largest near-infrared image of the sky available to astronomers until the next generation of telescopes like this Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope and Euclid come into operation in the next decade.

Until then, professional astronomers and interested amateurs alike can explore the sky with an online, interactive version of the 3D DASH image created by Gabriel Brammer, Professor at the Cosmic Dawn Center of the Niels Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen.

The team reports on their observations in a specialist article published in the journal The Astrophysical Journal will appear.

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