Measuring the carbon emissions of a tilted galaxy | national news

COLUMBIA, MD., January 10, 2022 / PRNewswire / – Ionized carbon is an important tracer of astronomical processes, and understanding how a galaxy’s angle affects ionized carbon can be key to improving analyzes of all of these processes.

Because the effects of perspective observation are complex, spiral galaxies tend to be studied only if their orientation is correct, that is, if telescopes can see them from the front rather than under a angle. Now a study of the galaxy NGC 7331 with the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), the NASA Airborne Observatory began to characterize these effects.

Space Research Association of Universities Jessica sutter, the lead author of the study, studied the various factors that can affect the emission of ionized carbon from a galaxy, including the tilt angle of the galaxy. His presentation, “A Map of the Molecular Ring and Arms of a Spiral Galaxy,” at the American Astronomical Society’s Virtual Press Conference will take place on January 10 at 10:15 am MT. An article on this topic has been accepted for publication in The Journal of Astrophysics.

“One of the reasons more and more people haven’t looked at the ionized carbon emissions of peripheral galaxies is that you can’t do it from observations on the ground. You need a observation platform at least from the stratosphere, if not in space, ”Sutter mentioned. “With SOFIA, we have even more opportunities to get these full maps, and we see how useful that can be.”

Ionized carbon is an important measurement in astronomy because it can indicate the presence of star formation, the cooling of the space between stars, and other processes. Additionally, it tends to be quite bright, making it easily detectable in galaxies tens of billions of light years away, which is especially useful for galaxies for which little other data is available.

“Knowing where the emission of ionized carbon comes from – whether it’s regions of photodissociation, regions of ionized hydrogen, or diffuse ionized gas – is going to affect how we might use it to trace the gas. molecular, star formation or photodissociation conditions, ”Sutter said. . “Our viewing angle can have an effect.”

Because NGC 7331 is a tilted galaxy, the fraction of ionized carbon observed varied depending on the side of the galaxy observed. “This should be an important consideration for researchers, especially if they are unsure of the tilt angle of the galaxy they are studying. With help from by SOFIA Unique ability to study ionized carbon in the Earth’s stratosphere, we hope to extend this analysis by mapping the ionized carbon emissions from an additional set of galaxies, ”Sutter said. This will help discover how tilt and other structural factors impact the importance of the charged atom in analyzes, helping to demystify the history of the universe.

SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Space Agency, DLR. The DLR provides the telescope, scheduled aircraft maintenance, and other support for the mission. NASA’s Ames Research Center at California Silicon Valley manages the SOFIA program, science and mission operations in cooperation with the Space Research Association of Universities, headquartered at Colombia, Maryland, and German SOFIA Institute at the University of Stuttgart. The aircraft is maintained and operated by NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Building 703, in Palmdale, California.

About USRA

Founded in 1969 under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences at the behest of the United States government, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is a non-profit corporation established to advance space science, technology, and engineering . USRA operates scientific institutes and facilities, and conducts other major research and educational programs, with federal funding. USRA engages the academic community and employs in-house scientific leadership, innovative research and development, and project management expertise. More information about the USRA is available at

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