Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. 24/7 Space News .




STELLAR CHEMISTRY
NASA's Spitzer Sees Light of Lonesome Stars
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Oct 25, 2012


New research from scientists using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope suggests that a mysterious infrared glow across our whole sky is coming from stray stars torn from galaxies. When galaxies grow, they merge and become gravitationally tangled in a violent process that results in streams of stars being ripped away from the galaxies. Such streams, called tidal tails, can be seen in this artist's concept. Scientists say that Spitzer is picking up the collective glow of stars such as these, which linger in the spaces between galaxies. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UC Irvine. For a larger version of this image please go here.

A new study using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope suggests a cause for the mysterious glow of infrared light seen across the entire sky. It comes from isolated stars beyond the edges of galaxies. These stars are thought to have once belonged to the galaxies before violent galaxy mergers stripped them away into the relatively empty space outside of their former homes.

"The infrared background glow in our sky has been a huge mystery," said Asantha Cooray of the University of California at Irvine, lead author of the new research published in the journal Nature. "We have new evidence this light is from the stars that linger between galaxies. Individually, the stars are too faint to be seen, but we think we are seeing their collective glow."

The findings disagree with another theory explaining the same background infrared light observed by Spitzer. A group led by Alexander "Sasha" Kashlinsky of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., proposed in June this light, which appears in Spitzer images as a blotchy pattern, is coming from the very first stars and galaxies.

In the new study, Cooray and colleagues looked at data from a larger portion of the sky, called the Bootes field, covering an arc equivalent to 50 full Earth moons. These observations were not as sensitive as those from the Kashlinsky group's studies, but the larger scale allowed researchers to analyze better the pattern of the background infrared light.

"We looked at the Bootes field with Spitzer for 250 hours," said co-author Daniel Stern of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Studying the faint infrared background was one of the core goals of our survey, and we carefully designed the observations in order to directly address the important, challenging question of what causes the background glow."

The team concluded the light pattern of the infrared glow is not consistent with theories and computer simulations of the first stars and galaxies. Researchers say the glow is too bright to be from the first galaxies, which are thought not to have been as large or as numerous as the galaxies we see around us today. Instead, the scientists propose a new theory to explain the blotchy light, based on theories of "intracluster" or "intrahalo" starlight.

Theories predict a diffuse smattering of stars beyond the halos, or outer reaches, of galaxies, and in the spaces between clusters of galaxies. The presence of these stars can be attributed to two phenomena. Early in the history of our universe as galaxies grew in size, they collided with other galaxies and gained mass.

As the colliding galaxies became tangled gravitationally, strips of stars were shredded and tossed into space. Galaxies also grow by swallowing smaller dwarf galaxies, a messy process that also results in stray stars.

"A light bulb went off when reading some research papers predicting the existence of diffuse stars," Cooray said. "They could explain what we are seeing with Spitzer."

More research is needed to confirm this sprinkling of stars makes up a significant fraction of the background infrared light. For instance, it would be necessary to find a similar pattern in follow-up observations in visible light. NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) might finally settle the matter for good.

"The keen infrared vision of the James Webb Telescope will be able to see some of the earliest stars and galaxies directly, as well as the stray stars lurking between the outskirts of nearby galaxies," said Eric Smith, JWST's deputy program manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The mystery objects making up the background infrared light may finally be exposed."

Other authors include Joseph Smidt, Francesco De Bernardis, Yan Gong and Christopher C. Frazer of UC Irvine; Matthew L. N. Ashby of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass; Peter R. Eisenhardt of JPL; Anthony H. Gonzalez of the University of Florida in Gainesville; Christopher S. Kochanek of Ohio State University in Columbus; Szymon Koz?owski of Ohio State and the Warsaw University Observatory in Poland; and Edward L. Wright of the University of California, Los Angeles.

.


Related Links
Spitzer at NASA
Stellar Chemistry, The Universe And All Within It






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Quasar May Be Embedded in Unusually Dusty Galaxy
Washington DC (SPX) Oct 24, 2012
Hubble astronomers have looked at one of the most distant and brightest quasars in the universe and are surprised by what they did not see: the underlying host galaxy of stars feeding the quasar. The best explanation is that the galaxy is shrouded in so much dust that the stars are completely hidden everywhere. Astronomers believe that the James Webb Space Telescope will reveal the galaxy. ... read more


STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Astrium presents results of its study into automatic landing near the Moon's south pole

European mission to search for moon water

Model reconciles Lunar Earth composition with giant impact theory

Massive planetary collision may have zapped key elements from moon

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Valles Marineris - the largest canyon in the Solar System

Curiosity Rover Collects Fourth Scoop of Martian Soil

How Space Station Can Help Humans Follow Curiosity to Mars and Beyond

Mars Soil Sample Delivered for Analysis Inside Rover

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Space daredevil Baumgartner is 'officially retired'

NASA must reinvest in nanotechnology research, according to new Rice University paper

Austrian space diver no stranger to danger

Baumgartner feat boosts hopes for imperilled astronauts

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
China to launch 11 meteorological satellites by 2020

China makes progress in spaceflight research

Patience for Tiangong

China launches civilian technology satellites

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
New crew docks with ISS: Russia

ISS Crew Gets Ready for New Expedition 33 Trio

New ISS Crew Confirmed

Russia launches three astronauts to ISS

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
S. Korea readies third bid to join global space club

Brazil eyes closer space cooperation with Ukraine

S. Korea plans third rocket launch bid Friday

AFSPC commander convenes AIB

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
New small satellite will study super-Earths for ESA

Most Planetary Systems are 'Flatter than Pancakes'

Glitch could end NASA planet search

Ultra-Compact Planetary System Is A Touchstone For Understanding New Planet Population

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Zynga bets on mobile and gambling games

Microsoft goes mobile with Windows 8, new tablet

Lockheed Martin Foliage-Penetrating Reconnaissance Radar Integrated with System to Detect Slow Moving Objects

Orbital Awarded Contract by USAF For EAGLE Spacecraft Platform




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement