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

 

R18: The Warehouse Group Praised For Removing Games

The decision by New Zealand’s largest retailer The Warehouse Group (TW Group), to withdraw stocks of the latest version of Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) and other R18 games, has been praised by advocacy group Stop Demand Foundation. More>>

ALSO:

Air NZ Wine Awards: Victory For Villa Maria As Pinot Noir Thrills

It was a night to remember as Villa Maria Estate picked up one of the highest accolades of the evening, the O-I New Zealand Reserve Wine of the Show Trophy, at the 28th Air New Zealand Wine Awards. The Villa Maria Single Vineyard Southern Clays Marlborough ... More>>

ALSO:

Future Brighter Money: RBNZ Releases New Bank Note Designs

New Zealand’s banknotes are getting brighter and better, with the Reserve Bank today unveiling more vibrant and secure banknote designs which will progressively enter circulation later next year. More>>

ALSO:

Commerce: Supermarket Inquiry Finds No Breaches By Countdown

The Commerce Commission inquiry into anti-competitive behaviour by Countdown supermarkets, alleged by former Labour Party MP Shane Jones, has found nothing to warrant prosecution, although it warns supermarkets to take care in the way they communicate... More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: English Flags ‘Challenge’ To Budget Surplus

Finance Minister Bill English is warning next month’s half yearly fiscal and economic update from the Treasury may not forecast a budget surplus, saying that returning the government’s accounts to surplus in 2015 will be “a challenge”, given the decline in commodity prices and weak global inflation. More>>

ALSO:

March 2015: Netflix To Launch In Australia And New Zealand

World’s Leading Internet Television Network to Offer Original Series, Movies, Documentaries, Stand-Up Comedy Specials and TV Shows for Low Monthly Price More>>

ALSO:

Price Of Cheese (Is Up): Dairy Product Prices Fall To Five-Year Low

Dairy product prices fell in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction to the lowest level in more than five years, led by declines in rennet casein and skim milk powder. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news