Atlas reveals a visual feast of galaxies

Galaxy pair NGC 4676

The duo of galaxies known as NGC 4676—also known as the Mice Galaxies because of their "tails"—have come so close to each other that they're in the process of merging.

A NEW BOOK about galaxies has been released by astronomer Dr Glen Mackie from Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia.

The Multiwavelength Atlas of Galaxies contains more than 250 colour images contributed by Mackie and more than 100 astronomy colleagues.

“The atlas shows the huge variety of galactic structures when observing the entire electromagnetic spectrum, not just the optical region,” Mackie said.

“Historically we’ve tended to look at galaxies mainly at optical wavelengths, but that is really only about 10 per cent of the full story. Looking across the full spectrum you see what’s going on not only with stars, but with gas, dust, even electrons.”

Cover of Multiwavelength Atlas of Galaxies

Cover of the new book, Multiwavelength Atlas of Galaxies by Dr Glen Mackie.

The atlas explains why we see the component stars, gas and dust through different radiation processes.

The telescopes, instruments and detectors used to collect the images include the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Parkes 64m dish.

The atlas includes appendices describing the instruments used, image sources and technical descriptions, a cross-reference list of galaxies, and plots of spectral energy distributions.

Mackie began compiling the atlas images when he was a research astronomer at Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in the late 1990s.

He envisaged the atlas as a textbook for astronomy students and a reference for professional astronomers, but it is also suitable for astronomy enthusiasts interested in learning more about the processes that have shaped and structured our universe.

The Multiwavelength Atlas of Galaxies can be purchased at the Cambridge University Press website http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521620628

Adapted from information issued by Swinburne University.

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