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Professor Astronomy

Random neat things in the sky

3 Jul 2010, 01:28 UTC
Random neat things in the sky
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Today I was working on one of the many projects on which I am dreadfully behind. Usually that means I just plow through the work as quickly and accurately as I can. This particular project involves taking deep (very faint) photographs of what, to many astronomers, are large areas of the sky -- patches about as large as the moon. These pictures often contain 20,000 or 30,000 galaxies, too many to work on by hand. So I use automation to measure the position, brightness and color of each galaxy. I then spot check each data set to make sure the automation worked.

When I spot checked this particular image, I noticed lots of really cool galaxies. So I made a color image from our photographs, and I made cutouts of some of the more interesting things. For each of the images below, click on them to get a larger view. And, in case you wonder, the blue and white vertical streaks are artifacts from stars that are so bright they overwhelm the camera. Even so, these stars are typically 1000 to 10,000 times fainter than the faintest star your eye can see on a dark, crystal-clear night. All descriptions refer ...

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