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Weave: New device investigates the origin of the Milky Way

PALMA, Spain — Scientists have equipped one of Earth’s most powerful telescopes with new technology that reveals in unprecedented detail how galaxies formed.

The William Herschel Telescope (WHT) in La Palma, Spain, can survey 1,000 stars per hour until it has cataloged a total of 5 million.

An ultrafast mapping device attached to WHT analyzes the composition and speed of movement of each star.

Shows how our Milky Way galaxy formed over billions of years.

Professor Gavin Dalton of the University of Oxford has spent more than a decade developing this device, known as a ‘weave’.

He told me he was “very excited” to be ready.

“It’s a great achievement that so many people have made this happen, and it’s great that it’s working,” he said. “The next step is a new adventure, great!”

Weave was installed at the WHT on the summit of La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain. The name stands for WHT Enhanced Area Velocity Explorer, and it does exactly that.

With 80,000 parts, it’s an engineering miracle.

Astronomers locate 1,000 stars for each patch of sky that WHT points to. Weave’s agile robotic fingers then precisely place optical fibers (light-transmitting tubes) at each location on the plate and point them at the corresponding star.

These fibers are effectively tiny telescopes. Each captures light from a single star and directs it to another instrument. This splits it into an iridescent spectrum that contains the secrets of stellar origin and history.

All this in just 1 hour. While this is going on, the optical fibers of the next thousand stars will be placed on the back side of the plate, which will be flipped over to analyze the next set of targets once the previous survey is complete.

Our galaxy is a dense spiral of up to 400 billion stars. But it started as a cluster of relatively small stars.

It grew from successive mergers with other smaller galaxies over billions of years. Stir up enough to lead to formation.

Weave calculates the speed, direction, age, and composition of each star it observes, essentially creating a movie of stars moving through the Milky Way. According to Professor Dalton, extrapolating in the opposite direction makes it possible to reconstruct the entire formation of the Milky Way in detail never before seen.

“We can track the absorbed galaxies as the Milky Way galaxy builds up over cosmic time and see how each absorption triggers the formation of new stars,” he said.

Dr Marc Balcells, WHT’s overall director, told BBC News that he believes Weave will make a big difference in our understanding of how galaxies are made.

“We’ve heard for decades that we’re in the golden age of astronomy, but what the future holds is even more important.

“Weave seeks to answer questions that astronomers have tried to answer for decades, such as how many pieces came together to make a large galaxy, or how many galaxies came together to make the Milky Way. of?”

Dr. Cecilia Farina, the project’s metrology specialist, said she believes Weave will make astronomical history.

“We will discover a huge amount of things that we never thought we would discover,” she said. “Because the universe is full of surprises”

You can see Weave and other new telescopes in action in the BBC iPlayer short film The Cosmic Hunters. — BBC

https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/623526/Life/Explore/Scientists-have-supercharged-one-of-Earths-most-powerful-telescopes-with-new-technology-that-will-reveal-how-our-galaxy-formed-in-unprecedented-detail?ref=rss&format=simple&link=link Weave: New device investigates the origin of the Milky Way

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