New data helps astronomers explore the hidden Milky Way
Astronomers with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III), including LJMU’s Ricardo Schiavon, recently released a new online public data set, featuring 60,000 stars, that is helping to tell the story of how our Milky Way galaxy formed.
The highlight of Data Release 10 is a new set of high-resolution stellar spectra — measurements of the amount of light given off by a star at each wavelength — using infrared light, invisible to human eyes but able to penetrate the veil of dust that obscures the centre of the Galaxy. The data released includes infrared spectra of these two stars, shown in the context of the Milky Way galaxy.
Ricardo, who is a Reader in Astrophysics, is a Survey Scientist in the Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE), which means that he plays a key role in the design of the survey and in the data analysis. LJMU has recently become a member of SDSS-IV, the next installation of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. SDSS-IV includes APOGEE-2, which will be an all-sky extension of the APOGEE survey, starting operations next summer. Apache Point Observatory is located in New Mexico, where the 2.5m telescope upon which SDSS is based is sited.
The map shows an infrared view of the Milky Way as seen from Earth. Green circles show areas where Data Release 10 includes infrared spectroscopy data from the first years of APOGEE observations. The white boxes show the infrared spectra of two stars as seen by the APOGEE; red lines show where these stars live in the Galaxy. The two spectra are from two stars: one in the galactic bulge that is rich in elements heavier than hydrogen, and one further out in the disk that has fewer heavy elements.
Credit for map: Peter Frinchaboy (Texas Christian University), Ricardo Schiavon (LJMU), and the SDSS-III Collaboration. Infrared sky image from 2MASS, IPAC/Caltech, and University of Massachusetts.
The Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI): www.astro.ljmu.ac.uk/