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article imageDigital data is driving unique astronomical insights

By Tim Sandle     Mar 28, 2021 in Science
Astronomy has always relied on mathematics and the collection of information. However, the digital data revolution has enabled new insights to be obtained. Three examples of this are presented.
Astronomers are increasingly reliant upon data for making observations. Astronomical data generally consist of either two-dimensional images (or 3-dimensional image cubes containing many images), or one-dimensional spectra. Capturing this is digital form is leading to some remarkable new insights.
Storm warning on Jupiter
Astronomers have assessed readings to measure the winds in Jupiter's middle atmosphere. By collecting digital data, scientists have succeeded in analyzing the aftermath of a comet collision from the 1990s.
Europa is one of Jupiter's four moons
Europa is one of Jupiter's four moons
-, NASA/ESA/Hubble/AFP/File
This insight has enabled researchers, operating out of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, to assess these incredibly powerful winds, where speeds of up to 1450 kilometers an hour near Jupiter's poles have been recorded. Such is the extent of the revelation that it could represent what the researchers call a 'unique meteorological beast in our Solar System'.
Incredibly, these jets could behave like a giant vortex with a diameter of up to four times that of Earth, and some 900 kilometres in height.
The data is published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, titled “First direct measurement of auroral and equatorial jets in the stratosphere of Jupiter.”
Have we found fast growing stars?
Data captured by the Hubble telescope has shown how torrential outflows from infant stars may not stop them from growing. The NASA led study represents the largest-ever survey of nascent stars to date.
From the collected digital data, scientists have discovered that gas-clearing by a star's outflow may not be as important in determining its final mass as conventional theories suggest.
Artist s Impression of a Massive Asteroid Belt in Orbit around a Star. A news study shows that simil...
Artist's Impression of a Massive Asteroid Belt in Orbit around a Star. A news study shows that similar rubble around many white dwarfs contaminates these stars with rocky material and water.
NASA-JPL / Caltech / T. Pyle (SSC)
The significance of this may mean that conventional theories of star formation are incorrect. This is challenged by new estimates relating to the amount of mass that had been cleared out by the stars' outbursts
The research appears in The Astrophysical Journal, where it is titled “An HST Survey of Protostellar Outflow Cavities: Does Feedback Clear Envelopes?”
Characterising a 'space jellyfish'
An unusual star formation has been observed. Here astronomers have observed what has been dubbed a 'space jellyfish'. This is based on data collected from a radio telescope located in outback Western Australia.
This colorful picture is a mosaic of the Lagoon nebula taken by NASA s Wide-field Infrared Survey Ex...
This colorful picture is a mosaic of the Lagoon nebula taken by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. Normally, you would expect a lagoon to be filled with water, but this nebula is composed of clouds of gas and dust in which new stars are forming. Also known as Messier 8, or simply M8, the Lagoon nebula is seen here as a large circular cloud in the center of the image, surrounded by innumerable stars.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
Researchers working at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research observed a cosmic phenomenon with a striking resemblance to a jellyfish. This has arisen by an event billions of years ago when supermassive black holes from multiple galaxies spewed out powerful jets of plasma.
The unusual pattern has been discussed in The Astrophysical Journal, in a research paper headed “Ultra-steep-spectrum Radio “Jellyfish” Uncovered in A2877.”
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