Very Large Telescope Captures stunning images of Cosmic Fireworks
The image was taken as part of the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS (PHANGS) project, which is making high-resolution observations of nearby galaxies with telescopes operating across the electromagnetic spectrum. Credit: ESO/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/PHANGS

We know the basis of star formation – when gas and dust come together, creating a gravitational attraction to attract more matter, the mass crushes under high temperature and pressure, forming a star. This process still has many questions attached to it. But the recent images – Cosmic Fireworks – captured by the European Southern Observatory of nearby galaxies with the help of the VLT (Very Large Telescope), the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope may answer them all.

As a part of Physics at High Angular resolution in the Nearby Galaxies (PHANGS) project, the team of astronomers used VLT’s Multi-Unit Spectroscopic (MUSE) and the data of Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to obtain the five images of the nearby galaxy. The pictures were released on Friday by the European Southern Observatory, and the observatory dubbed them ‘Cosmic Fireworks.’

Cosmic Fireworks can unravel The Mysteries

“There are great mysteries in star formation in the galaxy, and we want to unravel them soon,” said PHANGS team member Kathryn Kreckel from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. “Many questions arise like, Where are stars more often born? Why are they born in specific regions of their host galaxies? And how star’s birth influences evolution and formation of new generations of stars?”

They are more than pretty pictures of the galaxy and can tell how stars evolved and why are galaxies getting larger and larger.

Five images of Cosmic Fireworks
This image combines observations of the nearby galaxies NGC 1300, NGC 1087, NGC 3627 (top, from left to right), NGC 4254, and NGC 4303 (bottom, from left to right) taken with the Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). Credit: ESO/PHANGS

The team is also incorporating the data from the Hubble Space Telescope in this project along with the ground telescopes, VLT- Very Large Telescope, and Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). The data from both ground and space-based telescopes allowed us to detect the three different wavelengths- visible light, infrared, and radio.  

“The combination (Cosmic Fireworks) also allowed us to see various stages of stellar birth-formation of stellar nurseries for star formation and their destruction during new star birth, that too with more details,” says PHANGS team member Francesco Belfiore. He adds that “this is for the first time that we have been able to get the complete view taking sharp images of the clouds, stars and even newly forming stars.”

In the coming, future astronomers will include the data from James Webb Space Telescope and the Extremely Large Telescopes to get a detailed analysis.

Soon the mysteries behind the star formation, evolution, and then destruction will get clarity. Galaxies are more than what they seem to be, and therefore, picking one would be tough.

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