400,000 galaxies: New atlas will help reveal the mysteries of the cosmos

Astronomers have created a new digitally detailed atlas of our cosmic environment. It contains information about almost 400,000 large galaxies closest to the Milky Way.

Galaxy NGC 520, formed during the merger. Image from the SGA. Source: CTIO/NOIRLab/DOE/NSF/AURA

Scientists have long been striving to make the most complete map of the night sky, not only to complement our understanding of the cosmos in which we live, but also to support further research. Comprehensive collections of celestial bodies serve many purposes: they help to identify common patterns, make new discoveries, and identify the best candidates for new observations. 

Since astronomical technology is constantly improving, scientists regularly update existing maps and create new ones. The Sienna Galaxy Atlas (SGA) belongs to the second category. It contains information about 380,000 nearby galaxies.

The atlas was created on the basis of three studies carried out between 2014 and 2017. They were conducted at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) and Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), as well as at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory. During these studies, astronomers obtained images in the optical and infrared ranges. They cover an area of 20 thousand square degrees, which is equivalent to almost half of the sky.

Mosaic of 42 images of galaxies contained in the SGA. Source: CTIO/NOIRLab/DOE/NSF/AURA 

According to the researchers, previous galactic atlases had a number of problems. Among them, the wrong position, size and shape of galaxies. They also contained records that were not galaxies, but were stars or image artifacts. The SGA contains much more accurate information. It should become a detailed storehouse of information for researchers studying various aspects of galactic evolution, star formation, as well as dark matter and gravitational waves. In addition, it is posted on the Internet and will be available to the public for free viewing.

Earlier we talked about how space archaeologists shed light on the past of the Andromeda Galaxy.

According to https://noirlab.edu

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