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

In these tense instances we reside in, cosmic photos can present some perspective. The photos and visualizations beneath come from this week’s digital assembly of the American Astronomical Society and elsewhere.

Give your self a break: Take a stroll by the Milky Way 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 discipline strains detected by the airborne SOFIA observatory are overlaid on a Hubble picture of the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51). SOFIA streamlines: NASA / SOFIA science group / A. Borlaff; background picture: NASA / ESA / S. Beckwith (STScI) / Hubble Heritage Team (STScI / AURA)The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51), 31 million mild-years away in the constellation Canes Venatici, is a delight to watch. Now, NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has imaged the galaxy’s polarized mild in order to map out its magnetic discipline; the ensuing magnetic streamlines are proven above.

While radio observations had proven that the magnetic discipline strains observe the spiral construction in the inside components of the galaxy, SOFIA knowledge reveals for the primary time that the magnetic discipline strains in the outer arms don’t observe 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 in all probability additionally performs a task.

— Monica Young

Windblown Jets

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 SurveyMarie-Lou Gendron-Marsolais (European Southern Observatory, Chile) wowed members along with her group’s newest radio photos of galaxies in the Perseus Cluster. Lying about 230 million mild-years away, Perseus is the brightest cluster in the X-ray sky and a protracted-studied goal at a number of wavelengths. The astronomers collected the brand new excessive-decision observations with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array in New Mexico, utilizing the array’s largest, highest-decision configuration.

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

Marie-Lou Gendron-Marsolais (ESO) introduced an in depth clarification for the jets’ interplay with their atmosphere on the AAS assembly.Another 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 — possibly a mix of our viewing angle and twisting by shocks in the encompassing gasoline, Gendron-Marsolais mentioned throughout her presentation on January 12th. The outcomes additionally seem in the December 2020 Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

— Camille M. Carlisle

A Moon-forming Disk?

These three photos of the DH Tau system present how the central star’s mild 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 big world is at the very least 11 instances Jupiter’s mass and enormously removed from its star — 10 instances farther out than Neptune is from the Sun. But at simply 2 million years previous, it is so younger that it nonetheless glows from the warmth of its formation.

Now, Rob van Holstein (Leiden University and European Southern Observatory) and colleagues have measured the polarization of this infrared glow to look at its formation in motion. The outcomes will seem in Astronomy & Astrophysics (on-line preprint out there).

The mild is strongly polarized, which suggests the world’s glow should be scattering off mud particles. This mud doubtless surrounds the planet in the form of a disk, which suggests DH Tau b could possibly be in the method 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, somewhat than forming nearer in and migrating out. That means this huge world, which could even be huge sufficient to be a brown dwarf, would have collapsed instantly from the gasoline cloud that shaped the central star, in the identical approach that binary stars kind.

— Monica Young

Streamers in the Milky Way Halo

This picture is a visualization not of actual knowledge, however a simulation of tons of of streams of stars in a Milky Way-like halo. Each colour marks a distinct stream. An interactive model of this determine is out there on Adrian Price-Whelan’s web site.A. Price-Whelan / A. Küpper / J. Diemand The Milky Way has led a comparatively quiet life, with no main mergers with different huge galaxies up to now (the approaching collision with the Andromeda Galaxy however.)

Even so, our galaxy has had its fair proportion of social visits from dwarf satellites and star clusters. As these stellar clumps have fallen into the Milky Way, tidal forces pulled them aside into spaghetti-like streams that now adorn the halo surrounding our galactic disk. The Dark Energy Survey and the European Space Agency’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 may exist in the Milky Way halo.

A knowledge-based mostly visualization reveals the Jhelum stream (in orange), and another streams across the Milky Way. An interactive model of this determine is out there on-line at Adrian Price-Whelan’s web site.A. Price-WhelanThe Jhelum Stellar stream, proven in orange above, is likely one of the most not too long ago found streams in the Milky Way’s inside halo. In addition to Gaia knowledge, Allyson Sheffield (LaGuardia Community College) and colleagues made use of the APOGEE survey to find out the composition of the celebrities and thus assist slender down their origin. While they weren’t in a position to 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.

Read extra in regards to the end result in the SDSS press launch.

— Monica Young


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