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NASA Reveals New Galaxy Catalog

March 15, 2012

NASA has unveiled a new atlas of over 560 million stars, galaxies and asteroids captured by its Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission.

The new WISE exposures have combined into an atlas of over 18,000 images covering the sky and a catalog listing the infrared properties of more than 560 million objects.

“Today, WISE delivers the fruit of 14 years of effort to the astronomical community,” Edward Wright, WISE principal investigator at UCLA, said in a press release.

WISE observations have led to numerous discoveries, including the elusive “Y-dwarf” stars, which are the coldest class of stars.

These types of stars do not shine in visible light because they have been cooling since their formation, but WISE was able to spot them out with its infrared vision.

WISE also took a poll of near-Earth asteroids, finding there are significantly fewer mid-size objects than previous thought.

The mission also helped uncover the first known “Trojan” asteroid to share the same orbital path around the sun as Earth.

One of the images released on Wednesday by NASA shows a view of an “echo” infrared light surrounding an exploded star.  NASA said this echo has etched in the clouds of gas and dust when the flash of light from the supernova explosion heated surrounding clouds.

The space agency said that at least 100 papers on the results from the WISE survey already have been published.

“With the release of the all-sky catalog and atlas, WISE joins the pantheon of great sky surveys that have led to many remarkable discoveries about the universe,” Roc Cutri, who leads the WISE data processing and archiving effort at the Infrared and Processing Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said in a press release.

“It will be exciting and rewarding to see the innovative ways the science and educational communities will use WISE in their studies now that they have the data at their fingertips.”

WISE is a 10-foot unmanned satellite that weighs 1,400 pounds.  It was launched on December 14, 2009, and mapped the sky in 2010.

Wright said WISE surveyed the cosmos with infrared detectors about 300 times more sensitive than those used in previous survey missions.

WISE collected 15 trillion bytes of data and over 2.7 million images at four infrared wavelengths of light.

View the entire atlas here at: http://wise.ssl.berkeley.edu/gallery_images.html

Image Caption: This is a mosaic of the images covering the entire sky as observed by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), part of its All-Sky Data Release. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA


Source: RedOrbit Staff & Wire Reports



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