NewsNASA shows an incredible 'time-lapse' of the sky (VIDEO)

    NASA shows an incredible ‘time-lapse’ of the sky (VIDEO)

    The huge map, made up of images collected over 12 years, will tell astronomers the location of hundreds of millions of space objects outside our solar system.

    NASA scientists developed a stunning map of the night sky using images collected by the space telescope on its Near-Earth Object Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission over 12 years, showing the changes that stars, black holes and other celestial objects experienced over time in their position and brightness, the US space agency reported Tuesday.

    How is sky mapping done?

    According to the creators of the mapping project, NEOWISE completes half of its journey around the Sun every six months. During its orbital journey, the probe captures pictures of space in all directions and in the end these are joined to form an “all sky” map. They also detailed that, so far, they have combined about 18 maps in one and that they plan to use another two, which will be published in March of next year.

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    “If you go out and look at the sky at night, it may seem like nothing changes, but this is not the case,” said University of Arizona researcher Amy Mainzer, explaining that “The universe is a very busy and active place”since “stars are shining and exploding”, “asteroids are whizzing by” and “black holes are tearing stars apart”.

    The huge map will tell astronomers the location of hundreds of millions of space objects outside our solar system and provide information on the amount of infrared light each one emits. In the case of brown dwarfs (substellar objects that do not have enough mass to become bright stars), NEOWISE has detected approximately 260, which has been of great help to specialists who want to understand their origin and evolution in our galaxy.

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    The space telescope measurements have also made it possible to study the material that makes up protostars, which are objects of hot gas about to become stars. Scientists are currently tracking 1,000 protostars to know its first stages of formation.

    Finally, the data obtained from NEOWISE, along with a technique known as ‘echo mapping’have been used to analyze the disks of gas that revolve around distant black holes, which, being too small and far away, cannot be identified by any telescope.

    “We never anticipated that the spacecraft would be operating for this long and I don’t think we could have anticipated the science that we would be able to do with this amount of data,” concluded NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory astronomer Peter Eisenhardt.

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    The NEOWISE space probe was launched in December 2009 under the name WISE, to study asteroids and comets, as well as other objects outside our solar system. The WISE used infrared light sensors that were cooled by cryogenic applications with hydrogen. However, in 2010 the coolant ran out, so the following year it was put into hibernation mode. In 2013, it was decided to reactivate the device, under the name NEOWISE, to acquire information about comets and near-Earth objects that could pose a threat to our planet.

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    Source: RT

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