The NEOWISE (Near-Earth Objects Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer) spacecraft completes half a trip around the sun every six months. On his journey he obtained images of the universe in all directions. Together, these images form a map of the entire sky.
The amazing thing about these images is what the spacecraft is able to capture from the position and brightness of hundreds of millions of objects. There is a great video that we are going to show you.
The NASA movie shows changes in the universe ... glows that are millions of years old
You are Scientists used 18 maps of the entire sky produced by the space mission (with a release on March 19 and 20, 2023), and what is essentially a sky movie was created, revealing the decade-spanning changes.
Each map is a tremendous resource for astronomers, but when viewed sequentially, it serves as a more powerful resource for trying to better understand the universe. Comparing maps can reveal distant objects that have changed their position or brightness over time, which is known as time domain astronomy.
If we go outside and look at the night sky, it may seem that nothing is changing, but that is not the case. The stars glow and explode. Asteroids pass us and shimmer. Black holes tear stars apart. The universe is a really busy and active place.
NEOWISE was originally a data processing project to retrieve asteroid discoveries and characteristics from WISE - an observatory launched in 2009 tasked with analyzing the entire sky to find and study objects outside our solar system.
The spacecraft used cryo-cooled detectors that make it sensitive to infrared light.
Mission WISE, Dying, Refuse to Die
Invisible to the human eye, infrared light radiates through a large number of cosmic objects, including cold nearby stars and some of the brightest galaxies in the universe.
the mission WISE ended in 2011 after the onboard coolant — needed for some infrared observations — ran out.But the spacecraft and some of its infrared detectors are still working. So in 2013, NASA redirected it to track asteroids and other near-Earth objects. Both the mission and the spacecraft were given a new name: NEOWISE.
Despite the change, the infrared telescope continues to scan the sky every six months and astronomers have continued to use the data to study objects outside our solar system.
For example, in 2020, scientists released the second iteration of a project called CatWISE: An Object Catalog of 12 Maps of the Whole Sky by NEOWISE. Researchers use the catalog to study brown dwarfs, a group of objects found throughout the galaxy that lie in the dark near our sun. Although they form as stars, brown dwarfs do not accumulate enough mass to start nuclear fusion, the process that makes stars shine.
Because of their proximity to Earth, nearby brown dwarfs seem to move across the sky faster than distant stars that move at the same speed. So one way to identify brown dwarfs from among the billions of items in the catalog is to look for things that are moving. A companion project to CatWISE called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 invites citizen scientists to search NEOWISE data to relay things that may have been missed by computer searches.
NASA's Wise "discovered" 200 brown dwarfs
With two original WISE maps of the entire sky, the Scientists have discovered about 200 brown dwarfs within 65 light years from our sun. Additional maps revealed another 60 and doubled the number of known Y dwarfs, the coldest type of brown dwarf. Compared to the warmer brown dwarfs, Y dwarfs may have a strange story to tell in terms of how and when they formed.
These discoveries help shed light on the range of things in our solar region. And the more complete number of brown dwarfs near the sun shows scientists how efficiently stars form in our galaxy and how early they begin.
Seeing the sky changing over more than a decade has also contributed to studies of how stars form. NEOWISE can look at the dusty mantles that surround protostars, or balls of hot gas on their way to becoming stars. Over the years, protostars flash and glow as they accumulate more mass than the dust clouds that surround them. Scientists are conducting a long-term observation of nearly 1,000 protostars using NEOWISE to gain insights into the early stages of star formation.
NEOWISE's data has also improved the understanding of black holes. paying off The original WISE program discovered millions of supermassive black holes At the center of distant galaxies. In a recent study, scientists used NEOWISE data and a technique called echomapping to measure the size of the disks of hot, glowing gas that surround distant black holes, which are too small and too far for telescopes to monitor.
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