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NAM 20: e-MERLIN set to give wizard new view of Hubble Deep Field region

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 April 2011 16:41
Published on Monday, 18 April 2011 14:49

 The Hubble Deep Field (HDF), taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in the 1990s, is one of the most iconic images in astronomy.  Now, astronomers at Jodrell Bank Observatory have produced a high-resolution mosaic of the HDF region using observations from the MERLIN and VLA radio telescope arrays, as well as the new e-MERLIN array.

Nineteen separate images have been stitched together to create the widest high-resolution radio map of the region to date. The area observed measures a quarter of a degree wide, about half the apparent diameter of the full moon, and depicts numerous galaxies billions of light-years away. The map is inset with images showing even sharper views of some of the galaxies observed.  The map will be presented at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno by graduate student, Nick Wrigley, on Wednesday 20th April.

 

The MERLIN array is in the final stages of an upgrade to become the e-MERLIN array of seven radio telescopes, spanning 217km, connected by a new optical fibre network and operated from Jodrell Bank by the University of Manchester. Wrigley, under the supervision of Dr Rob Beswick and Dr Tom Muxlow at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, has created the map as a pilot study for a future e-MERLIN survey, which will focus on ever deeper (more sensitive) studies in the HDF region.  The survey will measure massive star formation and Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN) activity in very distant galaxies, tracing the development of the stellar populations and black hole growth in the first massive galaxies.

 

"This type of high-resolution imagery provided by MERLIN, and soon e-MERLIN, will allow astronomers to distinguish between different types of galaxies mapped, with the wide field of view allowing relative populations to be determined, giving insights into how they change over cosmological time.  In the centre of the image is a galaxy with a bright AGN, a feature thought to be caused by matter falling towards a central super-massive black hole. This close-up is the most recent image taken by e-MERLIN and shows the compact core in extraordinary detail," said Wrigley.

 

"Through e-MERLIN, we will get our first truly reliable view of the distribution of star formation within typical galaxies at the time when the bulk of the stars in the present-day Universe were being formed. e-MERLIN will help us disentangle the mystery of why we see apparently simultaneous growth of the black holes and stellar populations in galaxies," added Muxlow.

 

"Using the more accurate observations from e-MERLIN, it will be possible to produce more precise models of the physical process of star formation and understand how star clusters affect the growth of stellar populations, providing answers to some key questions in modern cosmology."

CONTACT

 

Dr Tom Muxlow

Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics

The University of Manchester

Tel: +44 (0) 161 2754108

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Dr R Beswick

Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics

The University of Manchester

Tel: +44 (0) 161 2754083

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Nick Wrigley

Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics

The University of Manchester

Mob: +44 7890 296669

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

PRESS CONTACTS

 

NAM 2011 Press Office (0900 – 1730 BST, 18-21 April only)

Conwy Room

Venue Cymru conference centre

Llandudno

Tel: +44 (0)1492 873 637, +44 (0)1492 873 638

 

Dr Robert Massey

Royal Astronomical Society

Mob: +44 (0)794 124 8035

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Anita Heward

Royal Astronomical Society

Mob: +44 (0)7756 034 243

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

IMAGE

The image can be found at http://www.ras.org.uk/images/stories/NAM/2011/images/emerlin.jpg

Caption: Composite image of 19 sets of observations by the MERLIN and VLA radio telescope arrays. The high resolution of the map is illustrated by the inset images of selected galaxies in the field. The most central image is expanded twice (including an e-MERLIN high-resolution image), and depicts a type of galaxy with a bright Active Galactic Nucleus, thought to be caused by matter falling towards a central super-massive black hole. This close-up is the most recent image taken by e-MERLIN and clearly reveals the compact core - less than 0.05 arc-seconds in diameter.
 

NOTES FOR EDITORS

 

NAM 2011

 

Bringing together around 500 astronomers and space scientists, the RAS National Astronomy Meeting 2011 (NAM 2011: http://www.ras.org.uk/nam-2011) will take place from 17-21 April in Venue Cymru (http://www.venuecymru.co.uk), Llandudno, Wales. The conference is held in conjunction with the UK Solar Physics (UKSP: http://www.uksolphys.org) and Magnetosphere Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial Physics (MIST: http://www.mist.ac.uk) meetings. NAM 2011 is principally sponsored by the RAS and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC: http://www.stfc.ac.uk).

 

The Royal Astronomical Society

 

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS: http://www.ras.org.uk), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organizes scientific meetings, publishes international research and review journals, recognizes outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally. Its more than 3500 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.

 

The Science and Technology Facilities Council

 

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC: http://www.stfc.ac.uk) ensures the UK retains its leading place on the world stage by delivering world-class science; accessing and hosting international facilities; developing innovative technologies; and increasing the socio-economic impact of its research through effective knowledge exchange. The Council has a broad science portfolio including Astronomy, Particle Astrophysics and Space Science. In the area of astronomy it funds the UK membership of international bodies such as the European Southern Observatory.

 

Venue Cymru

 

Venue Cymru (http://www.venuecymru.co.uk) is a purpose built conference centre and theatre with modern facilities for up to 2000 delegates. Located on the Llandudno promenade with stunning sea and mountain views; Venue Cymru comprises a stunning location, outstanding quality and exceptional value: the perfect conference package.