MUSE explores the unexplored depths of Hubble’s Ultra Deep field


This color image shows the Hubble ultra-deep field region, a small but highly studied region in the Fornax constellation, as observed with the MUSE instrument in the Very ESO Large Telescope. But this image only offers a very partial view of the richness of the MUSE data, which also provides a spectrum for each pixel of the image. This set of data has allowed astronomers not only to measure distances for many more of these galaxies than before, a total of 1600, but also to discover much more about each of them. Surprisingly, 72 new galaxies were found that had eluded the deep images with the NASA / ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: ESO / MUSE HUDF collaboration

Astronomers using the MUSE instrument in ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile have conducted the most profound spectroscopic survey ever. They focused on Hubble's ultra-deep field, measuring distances and properties of 1,600 very weak galaxies, including 72 galaxies that had never been detected before. This innovative data set has already resulted in 10 science papers that will be published in a special issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics . This large amount of new information is giving astronomers a glimpse into the formation of stars in the early Universe.

The MUSE HUDF Survey team, led by Roland Bacon of the Lyon Astrophysics Research Center (CNRS / Claude Bernard Lyon 1 / ENS Lyon University), France, used MUSE (Multi Spectroscopic Explorer) to observe the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, a well-studied patch of the southern constellation of Fornax (The Furnace). This gave rise to the deepest spectroscopic observations ever made; precise spectroscopic information was measured for 1600 galaxies, ten times more galaxies that have been obtained with effort in this field in the last decade by means of ground-based telescopes.

Original HUDF images pioneered deep-field observations with NASA / ESA The Hubble Space Telescope was published in 2004. They investigated more deeply than ever before and revealed a collection of galaxies dating back less than a billion years. after the Big Bang. The area was observed many times by Hubble and other telescopes, which resulted in the deepest vision of the Universe to date. Now, despite the depth of Hubble observations, MUSE has revealed, among many other results, 72 galaxies never before seen in this small area of ​​the sky.

Roland Bacon takes up the story: "MUSE can do something that Hubble can not divide the light from each point of the image into its component colors to create a spectrum, which allows us to measure the distance, colors and other properties of all the galaxies we can see, including some that are invisible to Hubble itself. "

MUSE data provides a new view of very distant and dark galaxies, seen near the beginning of the Universe about 13 billion years ago . Galaxies have been detected 100 times weaker than in previous surveys, which add to a very rich field and deepen our understanding of galaxies throughout the ages.

The study unearthed 72 candidate galaxies known as Lyman-alpha emitters that shine only in Lyman. alpha light The current understanding of star formation can not fully explain these galaxies, which seem to shine in this unique color. Because MUSE scatters light in its component colors, these objects become apparent, but remain invisible in deep, direct images, such as Hubble.

This sequence begins with an image of the Hubble Ultra Deep field of the MUSE instrument in ESO Large Telescope The first gray circles that appear mark the galaxies that had their distances well measured before the MUSE survey. The most numerous reddish circles that follow are new measures of UXO, approximately 1600 in total. The final crosses mark the positions of the galaxies that were only detected in the MUSE spectroscopic data and that were totally invisible to the NASA / ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The colors of the crosses indicate the distance, with the closest green and the most distant red. Credit: ESO / MUSE HUDF Team

"MUSE has the unique ability to extract information about some of the oldest galaxies in the Universe, even in a part of the sky that is already well studied," explains Jarle Brinchmann, lead author of One of the documents describing the results of this survey, from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences of the CAUP in Porto, Portugal. "We learn things about these galaxies that is only possible with spectroscopy, such as chemical content and internal movements, not galaxies by galaxies, but all at once for all galaxies!"

Another important discovery in this study was the systematic detection of luminous haloes of hydrogen around galaxies in the early Universe, giving astronomers a promising new way to study how material flows in and out of early galaxies.

Many other possible applications of this data set are explored, including studying the role of weak galaxies during cosmic reionization (beginning 380,000 years after the Big Bang), galaxy fusion rates when the universe was young , the galactic winds, the star formation and the movements of the stars in the early Universe. [19659013] This video sequence shows the Hubble ultra-deep field region and highlights in blue the bright gas haloes around many distant galaxies discovered using the MUSE instrument in ESO's Very Lar. ge Telescope in Chile. The discovery of so many enormous haloes, which radiate ultraviolet radiation Lyman-alpha, around many distant galaxies is one of the many results obtained from this deep spectroscopic study. Credit: ESO / MUSE HUDF Team

"Surprisingly, all this data was taken without the use of the recent update of MUSE's Adaptive Optics Facility, the activation of the AOF after a decade of intense work by ESO astronomers and engineers. it promises even more revolutionary data in the future ", concludes Roland Bacon.

This investigation was presented in a series of 10 articles to appear in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics .

Explore more:
Looking deeply into the universe in 3-D

More information:
Special issue of MUSE HUDF in A & A –

Journal reference:
Astronomy and Astrophysics

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