Stars are the ultimate glory of the night sky and the one thing that makes us love night. For all those who are in love with the night sky stud with stars, here on fossBytes we have something interesting for you.
Johns Hopkins astronomers from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) have created a unique map of enigmatic molecules in our galaxy by analyzing the light of thousands of celestial objects. These molecules may be the possible reason responsible for perplexing features in the starlight.
These features are called by the astronomers as the “Diffuse Interstellar Bands” (DIBs). They have been a mystery ever since they were discovered by the astronomer Mary Lea Heger of Lick Observatory in 1922. While analyzing the starlight, she found unexpected lines that were created by something existing in the interstellar space between the stars and the Earth.
Further research showed that these mysterious lines were due to a variety of molecules. But exactly which of the many thousands of possible molecules are responsible for these features has remained a mystery for almost a century.
This newly originated map based on SDSS data that reveals the location of these enigmatic molecules was compiled from two parallel and distinct studies.
Ting- Wen Lan’s team analyzed the light from more than half a million stars, galaxies, and quasars to detect the molecules’ features in the regions well above and beyond the Milky Way’s disk. Moreover, the team was able to see the types of environments in which these molecules are more likely to be found. Some molecules like regions of gas and dust, and others prefer the lonelier spots far away from stars.
In order to look towards the galactic plane, hidden behind thick clouds of cosmic dust, Zasowski’s team used data from the SDSS’s APOGEE survey. APOGEE observations, which make use of infrared light, can easily see through interstellar dust and measure the properties of stars all over the galaxy.
The members of the team detected some of the mysterious features in front of about 60,000 stars in a wide range of environments and were even able to measure the motion of these molecules.
All these recent findings paint the wide portrait of the firmament of astronomy which offers more and more opportunities to get closer to our cosmickins which were till centuries the part of a mystery.