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Kepler-22b map poster

Submitted by Kevin Jardine on 8 December, 2011 - 08:04

Hundreds of new visitors have arrived at Galaxy Map over the past few days looking for a map showing the location of the newly discovered Earth-like planet Kepler-22b and its G5V class parent star Kepler-22. I've never seen this kind of response to a news story before - usually traffic spikes are caused by other sites like Astronomy Picture of the Day linking to Galaxy Map. In this case the traffic spike has come from hundreds of people independently searching for a map.

To meet the demand, I've created a poster derived from several Galaxy Map resources.

The poster is here:

The poster is based on these resources:

Interactive map of the Gould Belt region:

Basic plan of the Milky Way:

Milky Way Explorer:

On the Gould Belt region map, red balls are HII regions of ionised molecular hydrogen gas, green balls are dusty molecular clouds, orange circles are star clusters and the small dots are extremely bright stars (typically supergiants or O and B class hot stars).

First WISE image

Submitted by Kevin Jardine on 17 April, 2011 - 11:39

Below is an image of Sh 2-284 I made this morning from the WISE data. The speed of the image server is now reasonably fast - I think the problem yesterday was just that it was down for a while.

I used all four channels, using the equations:

red = w4
green = 0.25*w2+0.75*w3
blue = 0.25*w2+0.75*w1

with a bit of preprocessing of the individual channel FITS files using Aladin first.

I've rotated the image to the right by 90° to compare it with an earlier image I made using Spitzer IRAC and SuperCOSMOS data.

Here's the WISE image:

(A much larger 4095x4095 version can be downloaded by clicking here.)

and here's the earlier Spitzer/SuperCOSMOS image for comparison:

The two obvious differences are that:

  • the Spitzer data is higher resolution
  • the WISE data reveals more at longer (redder) wavelengths than Spitzer's IRAC instrument. (Spitzer's separate MIPS instrument also covers the longer wavelengths). For this reason the WISE image shows more structure in the interior of Sh 2-284 than IRAC.

It looks like the WISE image server is going to be very useful and I'm looking forward to making more images!

WISE data release

Submitted by Kevin Jardine on 16 April, 2011 - 13:25

The first block of WISE infrared data was released a couple of days ago and there is an explanation of how to access the images here. Unfortunately all that is provided is an (when I tried it) unbearably slow postage stamp image server.

There is nothing like the full pannable and zoomable maps available for other infrared missions such as IRAS or Spitzer GLIMPSE/MIPSGAL. This is a real shame as the WISE all sky data is crying out for a Google Sky like interface.

The first block of data is mostly confined to the inner galaxy with a few key bits of the Gould Belt (Orion/Ophiuchus) and the outer galaxy provided as well. You can see the release map here.

I understand that the lack of a more elaborate interface is partially a funding issue. I hope that some resources become available (Google or Microsoft are you listening?) by the time the full data is released next year.

In the mean time (and if the postage stamp server becomes more responsive) I hope to start doing the Gum/RCW/Sharpless catalog images in infrared.

Nearest stars

Submitted by Kevin Jardine on 28 March, 2011 - 17:10

Visitors to this site sometimes ask me about the nearest stars to our Sun. Even the dimmest star shown on the maps on this site is 1400 times brighter than the Sun and most are quite far away.

I've occasionally thought of creating a near star map for fun, but now I see that the RECONS project have done the job for me with this map showing every known star within 10 parsecs:

All that is needed is an overlay to identify each individual star. Hopefully at some point they will add something like that. (I can't because RECONS has released less than half their star data so far.)

There is a much bigger 25 parsecs map (warning slow to load) here:

Distance to Cygnus X

Submitted by Kevin Jardine on 29 November, 2010 - 09:05

As I mentioned in my article on determining galactic distances, VLBI radio astronomy parallax measurements are finally producing accurate distance estimates for important locations around the Milky Way, replacing the dodgy and unreliable kinematic and photometric estimates used in the past.

Last week, an international team uploaded a paper presented at the 10th European VLBI Network Symposium to the astrophysics archive, giving an estimate for the distance to W75N, an important region within the Cygnus X complex, which is believed to be the closest major complex of star formation regions to our solar system. The estimate is 1320 (+110/-90) parsecs, making it slightly closer than the 1500 parsecs I've been using for the Milky Way map on this site.

The same team intends to publish estimates for other objects within Cygnus X, which should finally determine whether Cygnus X is a real complex of massive star formation regions or simply many different star formation regions scattered at different distances in the line of sight. Recent research suggests that Cygnus X is real, but only parallax measurements will make this certain.


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