NASA: 12-year fast-motion video reveals the “hidden” life of our universe | D.W. | 20.10.2022

NASA has published a time lapse 12-year view of the entire sky, captured by the NEOWISE telescope, showing the evolution of fascinating cosmic objects such as brown dwarfs and even black holes.

NASA’s NEOWISE, or Near-Earth Object Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer, orbits about 500 kilometers above Earth, constantly looking up into the sky and gazing out into the universe. And every six months, NEOWISE makes a trip around the Sun, taking images in all directions.

Taken together, these images form an all-sky map that shows the location and brightness of hundreds of millions of objects, NASA explains in a press release. So, thanks to the 18 all-sky maps produced by the spacecraft, scientists have created what is essentially a time-lapse movie of the sky, revealing changes spanning a decade.

According to NASA, the results, beyond being amazing for us, are an invaluable resource for astronomers to try to better understand the universe, since the comparison of the maps can reveal distant objects that have changed position or brightness with time, which is known as astronomy in the time domain.

“The universe is a really active place”

“If you go outside and look at the night sky, it might seem like nothing is changing, but it isn’t,” says Amy Mainzer, principal investigator for NEOWISE, in the press release. “Stars burst and explode,” she added. “Asteroids whiz by. Black holes rip stars apart. The universe is a really active and busy place.”

Despite the activity of the universe, most of these events pass unnoticed by the naked eye. Therefore, NEOWISE captured the infrared light emitted by these cosmic bodies by reusing the infrared sensors on board its predecessor, WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer), launched in 2009.

NEOWISE observes comets and asteroids orbiting the Sun

WISE, designed to look beyond our solar system, ran out of the coolant needed to maximize the sensitivity of its detectors in 2011, reports As the spacecraft was still in good health and two of its four infrared detectors were still operating at higher temperatures, NASA reoriented the mission to focus on closer objects, mainly comets and asteroids orbiting the Sun.

This illustration shows the WISE spacecraft in Earth orbit. The WISE mission ended in 2011, but in 2013 the spacecraft was reoriented to find and study asteroids and other near-Earth objects (NEOs). The mission and the spacecraft were renamed NEOWISE.

NEOWISE and its predecessor have proven indispensable to recent studies of the universe. In 2012, for example, he discovered millions of supermassive black holes in distant galaxies. And in a recent study, scientists used NEOWISE data and a technique called echo mapping to measure the size of disks of hot, glowing gas surrounding distant black holes, which are too small and distant for any telescope to see. I can solve them.

Furthermore, in 2020, NEOWISE was also used to study brown dwarfs, which are essentially stunted stars that never gained enough mass for nuclear fusion.

“We never anticipated the spacecraft to be operating for this long, and I don’t think we could have anticipated the science we would be able to do with this amount of data,” WISE project scientist and NASA astronomer Peter Eisenhardt said in the statement.

Edited by Felipe Espinosa Wang.

#NASA #12year #fastmotion #video #reveals #hidden #life #universe #D.W #20.10.2022

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