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Cosmic Suburbia, Better Star Breeding Ground


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#1    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 02:24 AM

Cosmic Suburbia is a Better Breeding Ground for Stars

Written by Linda Vu, Spitzer Science Center
January 25, 2008


linked-image
Galaxy Clusters in Abell 1763
NASA/JPL-Caltech/D.Fadda (SSC-Caltech)


New observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope suggest that galaxies prefer to raise stars in cosmic suburbia rather than in "big cities."

Galaxies across the universe reside in cosmic communities, big and small. Large, densely populated galactic communities are called galaxy clusters. Like big cities on Earth, galaxy clusters are scattered throughout the universe, connected by a web of dusty "highways" called filaments. While thousands of galaxies live within the limits of a cluster, smaller galactic communities are sprinkled along filaments, creating celestial suburbs. Over time, astronomers suspect that all galactic suburbanites will make their way to a cluster by way of filaments.

For the first time, Spitzer's supersensitive eyes have caught an infrared glimpse of several galaxies traveling along two filamentary roads into a galaxy cluster called Abell 1763.

"This is the first time we've ever seen a filament leading into a cluster with an infrared telescope," says Dario Fadda, of the Herschel Science Center, which is located at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif.

"Our observations show that the fraction of starburst galaxies in the filaments is more than double the number of starburst galaxies inside the cluster region," he adds.

According to Fadda, clusters and the filaments that connect them are among the largest structures in the cosmos. To see them, astronomers need instruments that can map large areas of sky and have the sensitivity to resolve individual galaxies.

Luckily, instruments aboard Spitzer can do both. Using the telescope's multiband imaging photometer, Fadda and his colleagues saw structures spanning 23 million light-years. They used the observatory's infrared array camera to collect a census of each galaxy's star formation and used a ground-based telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Ariz. to determine which galaxies belonged to the cluster and surrounding filaments. Ultimately, Fadda found that galaxies in the filaments form stars at a higher rate than their cluster counterparts.

"The new Spitzer findings will provide valuable insights into how galaxies grow and change as they leave cosmic suburbia for the big cities," says Fadda.

He notes that future infrared missions will be able to follow in Spitzer's footsteps and study how filaments and clusters affect the growth of galaxies in greater detail. One such mission is the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Telescope, which has significant NASA involvement.

His paper on this topic has been accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal Letters. Co-authors on the paper include Andrea Biviano of the INAF/Osservatorio Astronomico di Trieste, Italy; Florence Durret of Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, France; and Francine Marleau and Lisa Storrie-Lombardi of the Spitzer Science Center, Pasadena, Calif.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology, also in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

Source: NASA/CalTech - Spitzer- Newsroom

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#2    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 02:34 AM

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NASA/JPL-Caltech/D.Fadda (SSC-Caltech)


Celestial Cities and the Roads That Connect Them

This is a representation of galaxies in and surrounding a galaxy cluster called Abell 1763. The placement of each dot is based on the actual coordinates of galaxies in the region. Blue dots are active star-forming galaxies; red dots show galaxies that are not actively forming stars.

Galaxies across the universe reside in cosmic communities big and small. Large, densely populated galactic communities are called galaxy clusters (highlighted in the orange circle). Like cities on Earth, galaxy clusters are scattered throughout the universe and are connected by a web of dusty highways called filaments (highlighted in purple). Smaller galactic communities are sprinkled along the filaments, creating celestial suburbs.

Over time, astronomers suspect that all galactic suburbanites make their way to a galaxy cluster by way of filaments. Observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope show that filamentary galaxies form stars at twice the rate of their densely clustered counterparts.

About the Object
Object Name: Abell 1763
Object Type: Galaxy Cluster


About the Data
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/D.Fadda (SSC-Caltech)
Release Date: 2008/01/25


Source: NASA/CalTech - Spitzer- Newsroom

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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