New images and videos from the second data collection of the Survey of the Magellanic Stellar History (SMASH), the most extensive survey of the Large and Small Magellanic Cloud to date, have been released by the United States National Science Foundation (NSF) and may revolutionize human understanding of the stars that make up the two dwarf galaxies.
In an official note, the organization points out that the unpublished records, produced from 4 billion measurements of 360 million objects, reveal an “impressive family portrait of our galactic neighbors”, presenting a unique perspective of the stars, gases and dust of the region.
About 50 nights of specialized observations made it possible to create the material, as well as the aid of DECam (Dark Energy Camera), one of the most powerful on Earth, installed in the 4-meter telescope Víctor M. Blanco of the Inter-American Observatory of Cerro Tololo ( CTIO), in Chile, and its 520 MP resolution.
Glen Langston, NSF representative, highlights: “These are beautiful, multicolored images of the neighboring galaxies closest to the Milky Way. Through the care the team took, we received a remarkable view of 13 billion years of history.”
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Due to the proximity of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds of our galaxy, astronomers investigate universal formations from them more easily, since both are especially active and generate new stars constantly.
However, everything has its price, since this same distance makes its areas occupy a vast field of view in the sky, more than usually researchers are able to cover – an obstacle bypassed by DECam, which provides vast details, such as evidence of that they collided with each other in the recent past, triggering an intense activity of birth of stars.
Knut Olsen, a scientist at NOIRLab, a research center at NSF, and co-leader of the study, explains that the perimeter covered by the content is 2,400 times larger than that of the full moon: “These data, which involve central regions of the galaxies, where most of the stars are found, they are unique in depth, width and uniformity combined. ”
“In addition to producing incredible images, they allow us to look to the past and reconstruct the process of forming stars in the Magellanic clouds over time. With them, we can try to understand how and why these galaxies got here”, he stresses.
Among the future plans of the Foundation, which encourages the international community to seek news from the documents, soon made available to the public in full by the Astro Data Lab and the Astro Data Archive, is the development of a film that shows the development of the ages.
“We’re just getting started,” says David Nidever, director of the initiative.