February 24, 2024

Astronomers provide a revolutionary X-ray image of the sky

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The eRosita telescope reveals impressive X-ray data with a look into the depths of the universe. Shows the entire Western Galactic Hemisphere.

Garshing – Owns the eRosita consortium The first catalog (eRASS1) of its All-Sky Survey It is published with about 900,000 identified X-ray sources. In its first six months, eRosita has discovered more X-ray sources than ever before in the history of X-ray astronomy, accompanied by scientific publications on topics such as planetary habitability and the detection of large cosmic structures.

The entire half of the sky was examined with the eRosita telescope

Andrea Merloni, chief scientist at eRosita, confirms in a press release issued by Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics Why these numbers matter: “We have discovered more resources in six months than the two large main missions, XMM-Newton and Chandra, have discovered in about 25 years.”

eROSITA telescope: what actually is it?

eROSITA, the main instrument of the Russian-German “Spectrum-Roentgen-Gamma” (SRG) mission, is performing the first all-sky imaging survey in the mid-X-ray range (up to 10 keV). Launched in 2019, the telescope's primary goals include detecting the hot intergalactic medium in galaxy clusters, systematically identifying mysterious (and suspected) black holes, and studying the physics of clusters of galactic X-ray sources. The telescope consists of seven mirror units with a new detector system developed by MPE and based on XMM-Newton pn-CCD technology.

source: Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics

Half the entire sky was scanned in sensitive energy bands, and the telescope detected an incredible record of more than 170 million X-ray photons. These data allow a look not only at the sources of the X-rays, but also at the energy they emit.

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This image shows half of the X-ray sky projected onto a circle (called an iso-Zenith projection) with the center of the Milky Way on the left and the galactic plane horizontal. Photons are color-coded according to their energy. © MPE, J. Sanders for the eROSITA Consortium

In all, the catalog contains about 710,000 supermassive black holes, 180,000 active stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way, 12,000 galaxy clusters, and a variety of other fascinating objects. To understand: A galaxy cluster, also called a cluster, contains several thousand galaxies. The Milky Way galaxy alone contains more than a hundred billion stars. The star closest to Earth is what we call the Sun.

EROSETA X-rays the universe: more than 1,000 galaxy superclusters

eRASS1 observations are not only a trove of data for astronomers, but also open new opportunities for the scientific community. almost 50 scientific publications They were submitted at the same time as the data release. This work spans a wide spectrum, from identifying new cosmic structures to discovering “quasi-periodic” black holes to investigating the effect of X-rays from stars on planetary atmospheres and water content.

The new findings about eRosita's skies are particularly impressive. An animation showing how the telescope viewed the X-ray sky. Color coding represents different energy ranges, highlighting different sources of X-rays.

A quick look at the eROSITA X-ray image of half the sky
The eROSITA X-ray image shows the newly discovered filaments (thread-like connections of visible and dark matter) between two galaxy clusters. The distribution of galaxies (white lines, top left), as seen in the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), follows a filament structure. In the slow simulation, designed to reproduce key features of the local universe, this single system comprising two clusters of galaxies and the filament string was also reproduced. © MPE, J. Sanders for the eROSITA Consortium

Exploding stars, black holes, and strange galaxies: a new era in X-ray astronomy

the Issuing statements and publications It represents a turning point in X-ray astronomy. Miriam Ramos Ceja, eRosita Operations Team Leader: “We hope that this will allow more scientists around the world to work with high-energy data and thus expand the frontiers of X-ray astronomy.”

More than 250 scientists in 12 working groups participated in this project, and the scope of their findings is enormous. In addition to the catalog and scientific results, the consortium also published images of the X-ray sky at different energies and the software necessary for comprehensive analysis.

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An X-ray image of the Virgo galaxy cluster
This X-ray image shows the full extent of the Virgo cluster of galaxies, the closest galaxy cluster (group of galaxies) to us. The bright white spot in the center is the central galaxy M87 (known from an image of the supermassive black hole observed with the Event Horizon Telescope). The hazy white glow around M87 is very hot intergalactic gas. It extends more in some directions than others and is not circular, indicating that the Virgo galaxy cluster is still forming. The colored band at the bottom left comes from foreground emissions within our galaxy and is known as one of the eROSITA bubbles. © MPE, J. Sanders for the eROSITA Consortium

The eRosita team has also expanded the catalog with measurements from other telescopes at different wavelengths to provide a complete picture of the universe. Now it is in the hands of researchers around the world to examine published data and gain new insights into the universe. (Syrian Pound)