Feeds

ESO galaxy hunters come up trumps

Searching the skies with quasars

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Galaxy-hunting astronomers at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) have turned up 14 previously undiscovered starburst galaxies, thanks to a new searching technique.

A starburst galaxy is one in the throes of rapid star formation. The team says some of the galaxies are spawning new stars at a rate of 20 suns per day.

Newly Found Galaxies (SINFONI/VLT)

Newly Found Galaxies (SINFONI/VLT)

To find the galaxies, the team went looking armed with a catalogue of quasars. A quasar is an extremely bright and distant object. Observed from Earth, sometimes their emissions seems to dip, suggesting that something rather large has blocked our direct line of sight, albeit briefly, and absorbed some of the quasar's radiation.

The team scanned the catalogues looking for dipping quasars. Twenty quasars with these dips in brightness made it onto a shortlist for further investigation. Of these, 14 turned out to have galaxies between us and them.

But that further investigation is no mean feat. "The difficulty in actually spotting and seeing these galaxies stems from the fact that the glare of the quasar is too strong compared to the dim light of the galaxy," says Nicolas Bouché of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, in Germany.

To untangle the light of the quasar from the light of the galaxy, the team used the ESO's VLT and SINFONI. SINFONI is an infrared integral field spectrometer that "simultaneously delivers very sharp images and highly resolved colour information (spectra) of an object on the sky", the team explains.

"This high detection rate alone is a very exciting result," says Bouché. "But, these are not just ordinary galaxies: they are most notable ones, actively forming a lot of new stars and qualifying as 'starburst galaxies'."

The team says the high detection rate is particularly exciting because it suggests SINFONI will be a very useful tool in locating new galaxies to study. For now though, the researchers plan to use SINFONI to probe deeper into the galaxies they have already found, rather than casting their net wider in the hope of catching other specimens.

The work is published in the Astrophysical Journal The SINFONI Mg II Program for Line Emitters (SIMPLE): discovering starbursts near QSO sightlines, N. Bouché et al. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball
That's it for God, then – if Comet 67P has got complex molecules
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P
Plucky probot aces landing on high-speed space rock - emotional scenes in Darmstadt
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
THERE it is! Philae comet lander FOUND in EXISTING Rosetta PICS
Crumb? Pixel? ALIEN? Better, it's a comet-catcher!
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.