(ORDO NEWS) — It looks a bit like a neon illustration from the 80s. But what’s in the image above is actually much, much cooler.
It is a star and the first light image taken by Gemini South’s latest instrument, the Gemini High Resolution Optical Spectrograph, or GHOST. . It shows the entire optical spectrum of light emitted by the star HD 222925 in stunning resolution.
“This is a milestone for astronomers around the world who rely on Gemini South to study the universe from this exceptional vantage point in Chile,” said Jennifer Lotz, director of the Gemini Observatory.
“Once this next-generation instrument is in service, GHOST will become an essential component of the astronomer’s toolkit.”
The light we actually see from the stars is full of hidden details that describe the features of the distant sun. It can tell us if a star is moving by how light shifts from one end of the spectrum to the other, and changes in brightness can reveal internal fluctuations that can be analyzed by asteroseismologists.
The entire spectrum of a star also reveals what it is made of, which in turn can be used to learn anything about it, such as how old the star is and where it formed.
This is because different elements absorb and re-emit light differently. When astronomers look at the spectrum of a star, they can find brighter and dimmer wavelengths and use that information to determine what elements are present in the star’s atmosphere.
You can see the dimmer property known as line absorption as in the image below.
This method was recently used in Hubble’s observations of HD 222925, a truly strange star about 1460 light-years away.
Spectral analysis revealed the largest number of elements ever observed in a star’s atmosphere, as many as 65, with most of them being heavy elements that can only be formed in extremely energetic events such as a neutron star collision or supernova.
This means that HD 222925, which is at a very late stage at the end of its life, probably formed from a cloud originally rich in these elements, seeded with the death of stars that came before it.
The new images from GHOST don’t reveal anything new about the star yet. The star was the target of the instrument’s “first light,” the first image taken by the new telescope to see if the telescope was working and how well. This allows scientists to make the necessary first adjustments to the device.
This is followed by a commissioning phase in which scientists and technicians will test the GHOST to make sure the instrument works as intended.
Once this phase is completed and any further changes are made, GHOST will be ready for scientific observation, probably around the first half of next year.
This is worth looking forward to. GHOST, which took 10 years to build, is 10 times more powerful than Gemini’s other large optical spectrograph, GMOS. According to the scientists, it is the most powerful and sensitive spectrograph of its kind currently used on comparable telescopes.
GHOST is expected to be able to provide exciting information about stars that other telescopes have identified as targets of interest. surveys and bring us many more stars divided into their component wavelengths – beautiful “stellar arcs” that will hopefully reveal many of the hidden secrets of the Milky Way.
The images were published by the International Gemini Observatory NOIRLab here.
Contact us: [email protected]