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Astronomers Spun Up by Galaxy-Shape Finding

13 Sep 2017, 21:38 UTC
Astronomers Spun Up by Galaxy-Shape Finding
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Using data provided by the Sydney-AAO Multi-object Integral field spectrograph (SAMI) at the 3.9m Anglo-Australian Telescope, Australian scientists have discovered have measured how a galaxy’s spin affects its shape.For the first time astronomers have measured how a galaxy’s spin affects its shape.It sounds simple, but measuring a galaxy’s true 3D shape is a tricky problem that astronomers first tried to solve 90 years ago.“This is the first time we’ve been able to reliably measure how a galaxy’s shape depends on any of its other properties – in this case, its rotation speed,” said research team leader Dr Caroline Foster of the University of Sydney, who completed this research while working at the Australian Astronomical Observatory.The study was published on 11 September 2017 in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.Galaxies can be shaped like a pancake, a sea urchin or a football, or anything in between.Faster-spinning galaxies are flatter than their slower-spinning siblings, the team found.“And among spiral galaxies, which have disks of stars, the faster-spinning ones have more circular disks,” said team member Professor Scott Croom of the University of Sydney.The team made its findings with SAMI (the Sydney-AAO Multi-object Integral field unit), an instrument jointly developed ...

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