13 July 2015

Studying How Galaxy Collisions Affect Star Production

The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) is studying the relationship between colliding galaxies and star formation.

Looking beyond the common belief, that star production is faster when two galaxies collide, scientists at ICRAR believe that this is only true if the two galaxies are of similar mass. They theorize that if one galaxy is more massive than the other, the smaller of the galaxies generate less stars while the other has an increase production of it.

They explain that the reason for the unequal production of stars from two galaxies of different mass is because the bigger galaxy strips away its smaller galaxy's gas from its gas clouds which is a primary component for star production.

10 July 2015

Kilo-Degree Survey (KiDS) To Study Dark Matter

Using imaging from the European Southern Observatory's VLT Survey Telescope (VST) and its huge camera, the OmegaCAM, the Kilo-Degree Survey (KiDS) aims to study and understand the relationship between dark matter and galaxies.

Astronomers theorize that dark matter which comprises 85% of all matter in the universe is what holds galaxies together. Without dark matter, galaxies would fling themselves apart while they rotate. Dark matter keeps these galaxies together due to the constraining effect of gravity.

The best way to work out where the dark matter lies is through gravitational lensing — the distortion of the Universe's fabric by gravity, which deflects the light coming from distant galaxies far beyond the dark matter. By studying this effect it is possible to map out the places where gravity is strongest, and hence where the matter, including dark matter, resides.

The survey studies the distortion of light emitted from galaxies. This light bends as it passes through massive clumps of dark matter while reaching the Earth. From the gravitational lensing effect, these groups turn out to contain around 30 times more dark than visible matter.

The image above shows a group of galaxies mapped by KiDS. On the right side, the image shows the same area of sky as in the left, but with the invisible dark matter rendered in pink.