An international team of scientists presented new images of Andromeda. For the first time, they can be used to study the structure of the galaxy and the regions of star birth.
Scientists have published a new detailed radio image of Andromeda, the sister galaxy of the Milky Way. The new data will allow researchers to identify and study the regions of Andromeda where new stars are being born.
This study is the first to depict Andromeda at a microwave frequency of 6.6 GHz. Such detail will allow studying the structure of the galaxy and its contents. Researchers will be able to establish connections between physical processes and draw parallels between the phenomena that occur in our universe.
Prior to this study, no map has been compiled that reflects such a vast region of the sky around the Andromeda galaxy in the microwave frequency range from 1 GHz to 22 GHz. In this range, the radiation of the galaxy is very weak, which makes it difficult to observe its structure. However, only in this frequency range are certain features visible, so having a map is extremely important for understanding what physical processes are taking place inside Andromeda.
To observe Andromeda at this frequency, the researchers needed a single disk radio telescope with a large effective area. For this, scientists used the Sardinian radio telescope with a 64-meter antenna, it is capable of operating at high radio frequencies.
It took them 66 hours of observations with the Sardinian radio telescope and sequential data analysis to make the researchers map the galaxy with high sensitivity. They were then able to estimate the rate of star formation in Andromeda and created a detailed map on which the disk of the galaxy was highlighted as the region where new stars are born.
For the study, the team developed and deployed software that allowed new algorithms to be tested to identify never-before-studied low-emission sources in the field of view around Andromeda at 6.6 GHz. Based on the resulting map, the researchers were able to identify about a hundred point sources, including stars, galaxies, and other objects in the background of Andromeda.