New Milky Way Map Reveals Distribution Of Cold Dense Gas

Posted: Feb 24 2016, 12:19pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

New Milky Way Map Reveals Distribution of Cold Dense Gas
Credit: ESO/APEX/ATLASGAL consortium/NASA/GLIMPSE consortium/ESA/Planck
  • ATLASGAL the gas survey of the Milky Way completed!

Astronomers have mapped where cold gas in the Milky Way exists using the Apex telescope.

Recently a research was published detailing cold gas survey of the Milky Way. The survey called ATLASGAL was completed by Astronomers. Astronomers mapped where dense very cold gas is found across the Milky Way.

Cold gas is responsible for the formation of new stars. The mapping was carried out from an altitude of 5,100m in the Atacama Desert. It is where the Apex telescope is situated and has imaged a majority of the galaxy.

The telescope sampled a vast, thin strip of the southern sky. The sampling was done using radiation that sits between radio and infrared waves. A highly sensitive, super-chilled thermometer was used as a detector.

Even very small changes in temperature were registered by a set of 295 sensors. The temperature changes were kept at less than 0.3 degrees above absolute zero. The sensor unit as a whole is called the Large Bolometer Camera (Laboca). The sensor unit is the heart of Apex.

The map which shows the cold gas regions in the Milky Way is called the ATLASGAL. ATLASGAL means Apex Telescope Large Area Survey of the Galaxy. The ATLASGAL has already even produced 70 scientific papers. The map is the first big tranche of data released for the scientific community since back in 2009.

The map covers an area of sky 140 degrees long and three degrees wide. The current map is more than four times the span of the previous iteration. The new ATLASGAL map is also a very precise and detailed map.

Timea Csengeri works at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany. According to Csengeri, the ATLASGAL is an exciting insight. It provides insight into where the next generation of high-mass stars and clusters will form.

The results of the ATLASGAL survey have complemented the existing data on the northern Milky Way. The previous data was collected by other telescopes in the North.

The current survey provides a glimpse into the southern view of the galaxy. The south of the galaxy is also of particular interest because it includes the galactic centre.

The promising regions of the map can be further investigated in much greater depth by Alma. Alma is the powerful, 66-strong cluster of antennae sitting on the same plateau.

The team at ATLASGAL combine their data depending upon radiation. The radiation has to be of a wavelength of 0.87mm. The measurements also need to coincide with Planck and Spitzer. The lower-resolution images are from Planck, and shorter-wavelength infrared data comes from Spitzer.

Leonardo Testi is from the European Southern Observatory. According to Testi, the ATLASGAL has given a new and transformational look. It provides a look at the dense interstellar medium of the galaxy.

The survey opens up the possibility to mine this marvellous dataset. The mining could lead to numerous new discoveries. Entire teams of scientists are already using the survey to plan for detailed Alma follow-up.

The ATLASGAL data is all available from the ESO's website and can be downloaded from there. The data has already also been published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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