Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Victoria researchers help develop map of Milky Way

A sky map of the
Faraday effect caused by the magnetic fields of the Milky
Way. Red and blue colours indicate regions of the sky where
the magnetic field points toward and away from the observer,
respectively. Image: Max Planck Institute for
Astrophysics.
Click for full size version

A sky map of the Faraday effect caused by the magnetic fields of the Milky Way. Red and blue colours indicate regions of the sky where the magnetic field points toward and away from the observer, respectively. Image: Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics.

MEDIA RELEASE

21 February 2012

Victoria researchers help develop map of Milky Way

We now have a new way of viewing the Milky Way, thanks to Victoria astronomer Melanie Johnston-Hollitt and one of her undergraduate students.

Dr Johnston-Hollitt and student Luke Pratley, who is about to begin an Honours degree in Physics, are part of an international team that has produced the highest precision map ever of the Milky Way galaxy’s magnetic field.

The team, led by Niels Oppermann of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA), pooled data from radio astronomy observations to map the galaxy’s magnetic field.

In 2004, Dr Johnston-Hollitt produced the first such map of the Milky Way with Dr Christopher Hollitt from the School of Engineering and Computer Science at Victoria University.

“Back then there were only 800 data points to use; now we have 41,000 so we are able to map for the first time the magnetic field of the Milky Way in detail like we've not seen before,” says Dr Johnston-Hollitt.

The Senior Lecturer in Victoria’s School of Chemical and Physical Sciences says there has been a renaissance in radio astronomy in recent years.

“The map shows the rapid advance of radio telescopes that work in a different way to optical telescopes.

“You can’t directly ‘see’ other galaxies by looking through a radio telescope but we can use computers to translate radio waves into images. There are parts of space where a radio telescope will allow us to ‘see’ further than optical telescopes.”

In making the new map, the research team measured the light from background galaxies and how the light changes as it passes through the Milky Way to produce a 3D view of the galaxy.

In particular, the researchers were able to use the light that is affected by the galaxy’s magnetic fields—polarised light—to map the galaxy’s structure. This technique is known as the Faraday Rotation.

“The Milky Way is hard to map because we are sitting on the edge of the galaxy looking through it However, we know that spiral galaxies like the Milky Way have magnetic fields that follow a particular pattern so we were able use polarised light to map the magnetic fields.”

Dr Johnston-Hollitt says that having many data sources helped create such an accurate map.

The new, high-precision map not only shows the structure of the galaxy’s magnetic field on a large scale, it also reveals small-scale features that help scientists better understand other aspects such as turbulence in galactic gas.


ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Cosmetics & Pollution: Proposal To Ban Microbeads

Cosmetic products containing microbeads will be banned under a proposal announced by the Minister for the Environment today. Marine scientists have been advocating for a ban on the microplastics, which have been found to quickly enter waterways and harm marine life. More>>

ALSO:

NIWA: 2016 New Zealand’s Warmest Year On Record

Annual temperatures were above average (0.51°C to 1.20°C above the annual average) throughout the country, with very few locations observing near average temperatures (within 0.5°C of the annual average) or lower. The year 2016 was the warmest on record for New Zealand, based on NIWA’s seven-station series which begins in 1909. More>>

ALSO:

Farewell 2016: NZ Economy Flies Through 2016's Political Curveballs

Dec. 23 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's economy batted away some curly political curveballs of 2016 to end the year on a high note, with its twin planks of a booming construction sector and rampant tourism soon to be joined by a resurgent dairy industry. More>>

ALSO:


NZ Economy: More Growth Than Expected In 3rd Qtr

Dec. 22 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's economy grew at a faster pace than expected in the September quarter as a booming construction sector continued to underpin activity, spilling over into related building services, and was bolstered by tourism and transport ... More>>

  • NZ Govt - Solid growth for NZ despite fragile world economy
  • NZ Council of Trade Unions - Government needs to ensure economy raises living standards
  • KiwiRail Goes Deisel: Cans electric trains on partially electrified North Island trunkline

    Dec. 21 (BusinessDesk) – KiwiRail, the state-owned rail and freight operator, said a small fleet of electric trains on New Zealand’s North Island would be phased out over the next two years and replaced with diesel locomotives. More>>

  • KiwiRail - KiwiRail announces fleet decision on North Island line
  • Greens - Ditching electric trains massive step backwards
  • Labour - Bill English turns ‘Think Big’ into ‘Think Backwards’
  • First Union - Train drivers condemn KiwiRail’s return to “dirty diesel”
  • NZ First - KiwiRail Going Backwards for Xmas
  • NIWA: The Year's Top Science Findings

    Since 1972 NIWA has operated a Clean Air Monitoring Station at Baring Head, near Wellington... In June, Baring Head’s carbon dioxide readings officially passed 400 parts per million (ppm), a level last reached more than three million years ago. More>>

    ALSO:

    Get More From Scoop

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Sci-Tech
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news