Halifax astronomers develop software to analyze data from early galaxies – Halifax
A team of Halifax astronomers celebrate the arrival of the Webb Telescope at its original destination over 1.5 million miles from Earth.
“Now that it’s at L2, we’re thrilled it’s here and can’t wait to finally use it in a few months,” said Marcin Sawicki, professor of astronomy at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.
The James Webb Space Telescope launched on Christmas Day and has spent the past month traveling to its Lagrange Point 2 base where it will orbit the sun, remaining aligned with the earth.
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Sawicki said Webb’s trip to L2 was so efficient that the remaining fuel can be used to extend his stay in space.
“The original plan was for a minimum of five years, a target of 10 years, and now we know it’s probably going to work longer than that,” he said.
Sawicki is part of a Canada-wide astronomy team now preparing to receive the first images from Webb this summer.
“We are developing software tools that will allow us to take the raw data and turn it into data that we can scientifically analyze, that we can interpret,” he said.
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Sawicki said the telescope records photons that will translate into physical information that astronomers like him are tasked with extracting for scientific purposes.
“It will tell us things like how far away a galaxy is, how old it is, how many stars it contains, how quickly it makes new stars,” he said.
“These are all very, very important things if we are to first identify these baby galaxies in the distant universe and then see how they build their bodies, their mass, over time.”
The Webb Telescope is made up of multiple mirrors that are currently being aligned one nanometer at a time.
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The mirrors are part of the telescope’s infrared capabilities that are revolutionary when it comes to detecting objects that cannot be seen in visible light.
“Because the light passed through the expanding universe, it changed color and moved towards infrared and that’s why Webb is going to be such a powerful machine for studying these objects,” he said. declared.
Sawicki concludes that the multi-billion dollar telescope is invaluable considering the information it will be able to collect that is interconnected with all of humanity.
“We wouldn’t exist without the very first generation of stars that formed after the Big Bang,” he said.
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