Australian Researchers Pioneer A ‘Google Street View’ Of Galaxies
A new home-grown instrument based on bundles of optical fibres is giving Australian astronomers the first ‘Google street view’ of the cosmos — incredibly detailed views of huge numbers of galaxies.
Developed by researchers at the University of Sydney and the Australian Astronomical Observatory, the optical-fibre bundles can sample the light from up to 60 parts of a galaxy, for a dozen galaxies at a time.
By analysing the light’s spectrum astronomers can learn how gas and stars move within each galaxy, where the young stars are forming and where the old stars live. This will allow them to better understand how galaxies change over time and what drives that change.
“It’s a giant step,” said Dr James Allen of the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics(CAASTRO) at the University of Sydney.
“Before, we could study one galaxy at a time in detail, or lots of galaxies at once but in much less detail. Now we have both the numbers and the detail.”