SDSS: Astronomers Develop New Tool to Find Merging Galaxies

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SDSS: Astronomers Develop New Tool to Find Merging Galaxies

Post by bystander » Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:02 pm

Don’t Judge a Galaxy by Its Cover: Astronomers
Develop New Tool to Find Merging Galaxies

Sloan Digital Sky Survey | 2019 Jan 08

Don’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t judge a galaxy by its image alone.

Today, at the 233rd AAS meeting in Seattle, astronomers from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) announce that they have developed a new tool to find otherwise-hidden galaxy mergers in data from the Mapping Nearby Galaxies at Apache Point Observatory (MaNGA) survey of SDSS. These results show that by going beyond simple searches for merging galaxies based just on how they look, astronomers will now be able find more galaxy mergers than ever before. ...

A pair of merging galaxies is one of the most beautiful sights in astronomy, with giant tidal streams of stars and unusual shapes sometimes resembling animals (e.g. the Antennae, Mice, Tadpole, or Penguin galaxies). However, these beautiful visible features are visible are only found in a small fraction of merging galaxies – and even then only for a small part of the billions of years it takes for two galaxies to fully merge into one. Some galaxies that otherwise look “normal” may still be in the process of merging.

Astronomers have developed a way to find these hidden mergers. They created a method that uses simulations of merging galaxies to predict both how the mergers would look and how the stars in the galaxies would move. By comparing their results with observations of galaxies from the SDSS’s Mapping Nearby Galaxies at Apache Point Observatory (MaNGA) survey, astronomers will be able to do much better at identifying merging galaxies in the wild. ...

'Missing' Galactic Mergers Come to Light with New Technique
University of Colorado, Boulder | 2019 Jan 08
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