Created a 3D map of a million distant galaxies hidden behind the Magellanic Clouds

Researchers from the University of Kiel have created the largest map of previously hidden galaxies. Scientists

used the VISTA survey telescope in Chile,to photograph the satellite galaxies of the Milky Way: the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. Thanks to the high resolution of the images, astrophysicists were able to see the gaps between the stars in each of them. Thus, they could see more distant galaxies.

These distant "hidden" galaxies seemdimmer and redder due to dust in the Magellanic Clouds. To eliminate the influence of dust, scientists used the Australian GASKAP radio telescope and created a detailed map of the gas and dust in the Magellanic Clouds.

Part of an image of the Small Magellanic Cloud. Some of the distant galaxies are circled in green. Image: ESO/VISTA Magellanic Clouds Survey

Another problem was to distinguishstars from galaxies, scientists say. At the same time, the number of objects in the images is so large that it was impossible to do it manually. The researchers used data from the Gaia observatory to measure tiny shifts in the position of stars over time, while much more distant galaxies stayed in the same place. Galaxies are also redder than brighter stars, so the color helped remove more stars from the dataset. The color also indicates how far away the galaxies are (due to their redshift due to the expansion of the universe).

Astrophysicists have used machine learning totrain AI to process the received data. As a result, scientists have created the largest ever 3D map of galaxies previously hidden behind the Magellanic Clouds, covering approximately 1 million galaxies.

Magellanic clouds are beautiful galacticcompanions, but unfortunately they block part of our view of objects farther away. Our work is helping to overcome this and fill in the gaps in our map of the universe.

Jessica Craig, Astrophysicist at the University of Kiel

Cover image: Large Magellanic Cloud. Photo: ESO/VMC Survey

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