From The Arizona State University: “Webb images reveal interstellar discovery”

From The Arizona State University

10.5.22

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Above the white elliptical galaxy at left, a faint red arc appears in the inset at 10 o’clock. This is a very distant galaxy whose appearance is warped. Its light is bent by the gravity of the elliptical foreground galaxy. Plus, its appearance is duplicated. The stretched red arc is warped where it reappears — as a dot — at 4 o’clock.

Researchers traced light that was emitted by the bright white elliptical galaxy on the left through the spiral galaxy at right. As a result, they were able to identify the effects of interstellar dust in the spiral galaxy. Webb’s near-infrared data also shows us the galaxy’s longer, extremely dusty spiral arms in far more detail, giving them an appearance of overlapping with the central bulge of the bright white elliptical galaxy on the left, though the pair are not interacting.

In this image, green, yellow and red were assigned to Webb’s near-infrared data taken in 0.9, 1.5 and 3.56 microns. Blue was assigned to two Hubble filters, ultraviolet data taken in 0.34 microns and visible light in 0.61 microns. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Rogier Windhorst (ASU), William Keel (University of Alabama), Stuart Wyithe JWST PEARLS Team.

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Second-year astrophysics and math student Jake Summers (left) looks on as research scientist Seth Cohen and Regents Professor Rogier Windhorst examine a new image from the Webb telescope in Windhorst’s lab. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News.

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Research scientist Seth Cohen talks during a Zoom meeting. Students, staff and faculty had gathered in the lab to analyze data and images coming in from the new James Webb Space Telescope, the older Hubble Space Telescope as well as ground-based telescopes based around the globe. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News.

Arizona State University astronomers are sharing one of their first and most beautiful NASA James Webb Space Telescope images of a galaxy pair at a distance of about 700 million light-years away from us.

Using Webb’s new images and data, the scientists were able to trace the light that was emitted by the bright white elliptical galaxy through the winding spiral galaxy in front of it, allowing astronomers to identify the effects of interstellar dust in the spiral galaxy.

Webb interdisciplinary scientist and ASU Regents Professor Rogier Windhorst and his team obtained the data used in these images from early results of the telescope’s Prime Extragalactic Areas for Reionization and Lensing Science (PEARLS) project.

“This is a rather unique opportunity to measure how much dust has been produced in this spiral galaxy-like our own-by previous generations of stars. Mind you that this is the kind of dust that the next generation of stars and planets, and in our case people, are also formed from,” Windhorst said.

Webb scientists are now able to delineate how star formation can happen in these kinds of galaxies from the gas and the dust that formed in the past. They folded in Hubble images to provide some of the bluish light, but almost all of this light is coming from Webb.

The Webb images used for this study observe wavelengths longer than those visible to the naked eye, but they are mapped onto our familiar family of colors to make our images. They are combined with Hubble data observing visible light to accurately model both the original light from the background elliptical galaxy, and how much it was reddened by the foreground spiral.

A sunset at the horizon, for example in Arizona, appears red because of dust in the atmosphere, and because our atmosphere transmits red light better than the blue light. The same principle applies in the Webb images.

The infrared light that Webb observes from the elliptical galaxy is very well visible in the images, even when passing through the dust of the foreground spiral. Windhorst says that most of this light is rendered as false color. You’re not actually looking at blue or violet light, but at near-infrared light that has been rendered for the eye to see.

Webb’s technology allows for a better visualization of the attenuation by dust that Hubble was not able to do. Webb’s eight new infrared filters allow for a more accurate analysis when mapping the attenuation by dust.

Windhorst explained that by comparing images of Hubble and Webb, the dust lanes in the foreground spiral become visible, the same dust that our solar system is made from when it formed our sun and its planets.

This dust now becomes visible because that background elliptical galaxy acts like a flashlight. It is the dust attenuation in this spiral galaxy that Windhorst and his team are trying to map, and it can be traced very well with the new Webb infrared images.

The Windhorst group combined data from Hubble and Webb to get some other surprising results. The image and data showed not only this a rather unique alignment of an elliptical in the background and a spiral galaxy they were trying to measure in the foreground, but they saw a strange-looking arc-shaped object behind the elliptical galaxy.

This is a distant galaxy seen within the first few billion years after the Big Bang. Its light was gravitationally distorted by the enormous mass of the elliptical galaxy, which is close to the mass of a hundred billion suns. And the very large mass of the elliptical galaxy stretches the very distant small galaxy into an arc.

The light from that distant galaxy is in reality almost directly behind the center of the elliptical, but its light comes around via two gravitationally bent paths: One is a stretched arc-like image, and the other is a faint counterimage on the other side of the elliptical galaxy center.

“We got more than we bargained for by combining data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope,” Windhorst said. “Webb’s new data allowed us to trace the light that was emitted by the bright white elliptical galaxy, at left, through the winding spiral galaxy at right — and identify the effects of interstellar dust in the spiral galaxy.”

Video by Steve Filmer/ASU Media Relations

The scientific paper was submitted recently to The Astrophysical Journal [below]. The research has also allowed ASU-NASA Space Grant intern Jake Summers to be part of the working for the ASU Cosmology Research Group as part of the Webb Telescope PEARLS team.

“I find it astonishing how Webb can provide for completely unexpected findings, such as the lensed galaxy behind the elliptical galaxy in the VV191 system, with relative ease and with only half an hour of exposure time,” Summers said. “The resolution of Webb never ceases to amaze me — I was blown away by the fact that it can resolve individual globular clusters in the main elliptical galaxy.”

William Keel of the University of Alabama is the lead author of this study, with co-authors including Windhorst, and Seth Cohen and Rolf Jansen from the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

The VV191 galaxy pair was called to the attention of researchers by citizen science group Galaxy Zoo. Keel has been involved Galaxy Zoo for nearly 15 years and was initially drawn to the group for the ability of participants to pick out rare galaxy types, especially silhouetted or overlapping galaxy systems.

“VV191 is the latest addition to a small number of galaxies that helps researchers like us directly compare the properties of galactic dust,” Keel said. “This target was selected from nearly 2,000 superimposed galaxy pairs identified by Galaxy Zoo citizen science volunteers.”

Science paper:
The Astrophysical Journal
See the science paper for instructive images.

See the full article here .

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The Arizona State University Tempe Campus

The Arizona State University is a public research university in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Founded in 1885 by the 13th Arizona Territorial Legislature, ASU is one of the largest public universities by enrollment in the U.S.

One of three universities governed by the Arizona Board of Regents, The Arizona State University is a member of the Universities Research Association and classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity.” The Arizona State University has nearly 150,000 students attending classes, with more than 38,000 students attending online, and 90,000 undergraduates and more nearly 20,000 postgraduates across its five campuses and four regional learning centers throughout Arizona. The Arizona State University offers 350 degree options from its 17 colleges and more than 170 cross-discipline centers and institutes for undergraduates students, as well as more than 400 graduate degree and certificate programs. The Arizona State Sun Devils compete in 26 varsity-level sports in the NCAA Division I Pac-12 Conference and is home to over 1,100 registered student organizations.

The Arizona State University ‘s charter, approved by the board of regents in 2014, is based on the New American University model created by The Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow upon his appointment as the institution’s 16th president in 2002. It defines The Arizona State University as “a comprehensive public research university, measured not by whom it excludes, but rather by whom it includes and how they succeed; advancing research and discovery of public value; and assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.” The model is widely credited with boosting The Arizona State University ‘s acceptance rate and increasing class size.

The university’s faculty of more than 4,700 scholars has included 5 Nobel laureates, 6 Pulitzer Prize winners, 4 MacArthur Fellows, and 19 National Academy of Sciences members. Additionally, among the faculty are 180 Fulbright Program American Scholars, 72 National Endowment for the Humanities fellows, 38 American Council of Learned Societies fellows, 36 members of the Guggenheim Fellowship, 21 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 3 members of National Academy of Inventors, 9 National Academy of Engineering members and 3 National Academy of Medicine members. The National Academies has bestowed “highly prestigious” recognition on 227 Arizona State University faculty members.
History

The Arizona State University was established as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe on March 12, 1885, when the 13th Arizona Territorial Legislature passed an act to create a normal school to train teachers for the Arizona Territory. The campus consisted of a single, four-room schoolhouse on a 20-acre plot largely donated by Tempe residents George and Martha Wilson. Classes began with 33 students on February 8, 1886. The curriculum evolved over the years and the name was changed several times; the institution was also known as Tempe Normal School of Arizona (1889–1903), Tempe Normal School (1903–1925), Tempe State Teachers College (1925–1929), Arizona State Teachers College (1929–1945), Arizona State College (1945–1958) and, by a 2–1 margin of the state’s voters, The Arizona State University in 1958.

In 1923, the school stopped offering high school courses and added a high school diploma to the admissions requirements. In 1925, the school became the Tempe State Teachers College and offered four-year Bachelor of Education degrees as well as two-year teaching certificates. In 1929, the 9th Arizona State Legislature authorized Bachelor of Arts in Education degrees as well, and the school was renamed The Arizona State Teachers College. Under the 30-year tenure of president Arthur John Matthews (1900–1930), the school was given all-college student status. The first dormitories built in the state were constructed under his supervision in 1902. Of the 18 buildings constructed while Matthews was president, six are still in use. Matthews envisioned an “evergreen campus,” with many shrubs brought to the campus, and implemented the planting of 110 Mexican Fan Palms on what is now known as Palm Walk, a century-old landmark of the Tempe campus.

During the Great Depression, Ralph Waldo Swetman was hired to succeed President Matthews, coming to The Arizona State Teachers College in 1930 from The Humboldt State Teachers College where he had served as president. He served a three-year term, during which he focused on improving teacher-training programs. During his tenure, enrollment at the college doubled, topping the 1,000 mark for the first time. Matthews also conceived of a self-supported summer session at the school at The Arizona State Teachers College, a first for the school.

1930–1989

In 1933, Grady Gammage, then president of The Arizona State Teachers College at Flagstaff, became president of The Arizona State Teachers College at Tempe, beginning a tenure that would last for nearly 28 years, second only to Swetman’s 30 years at the college’s helm. Like President Arthur John Matthews before him, Gammage oversaw the construction of several buildings on the Tempe campus. He also guided the development of the university’s graduate programs; the first Master of Arts in Education was awarded in 1938, the first Doctor of Education degree in 1954 and 10 non-teaching master’s degrees were approved by the Arizona Board of Regents in 1956. During his presidency, the school’s name was changed to Arizona State College in 1945, and finally to The Arizona State University in 1958. At the time, two other names were considered: Tempe University and State University at Tempe. Among Gammage’s greatest achievements in Tempe was the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed construction of what is Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium/ASU Gammage. One of the university’s hallmark buildings, Arizona State University Gammage was completed in 1964, five years after the president’s (and Wright’s) death.

Gammage was succeeded by Harold D. Richardson, who had served the school earlier in a variety of roles beginning in 1939, including director of graduate studies, college registrar, dean of instruction, dean of the College of Education and academic vice president. Although filling the role of acting president of the university for just nine months (Dec. 1959 to Sept. 1960), Richardson laid the groundwork for the future recruitment and appointment of well-credentialed research science faculty.

By the 1960s, under G. Homer Durham, the university’s 11th president, The Arizona State University began to expand its curriculum by establishing several new colleges and, in 1961, the Arizona Board of Regents authorized doctoral degree programs in six fields, including Doctor of Philosophy. By the end of his nine-year tenure, The Arizona State University had more than doubled enrollment, reporting 23,000 in 1969.

The next three presidents—Harry K. Newburn (1969–71), John W. Schwada (1971–81) and J. Russell Nelson (1981–89), including and Interim President Richard Peck (1989), led the university to increased academic stature, the establishment of The Arizona State University West campus in 1984 and its subsequent construction in 1986, a focus on computer-assisted learning and research, and rising enrollment.

1990–present

Under the leadership of Lattie F. Coor, president from 1990 to 2002, The Arizona State University grew through the creation of the Polytechnic campus and extended education sites. Increased commitment to diversity, quality in undergraduate education, research, and economic development occurred over his 12-year tenure. Part of Coor’s legacy to the university was a successful fundraising campaign: through private donations, more than $500 million was invested in areas that would significantly impact the future of The Arizona State University. Among the campaign’s achievements were the naming and endowing of Barrett, The Honors College, and the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts; the creation of many new endowed faculty positions; and hundreds of new scholarships and fellowships.

In 2002, Michael M. Crow became the university’s 16th president. At his inauguration, he outlined his vision for transforming The Arizona State University into a “New American University”—one that would be open and inclusive, and set a goal for the university to meet Association of American Universities criteria and to become a member. Crow initiated the idea of transforming The Arizona State University into “One university in many places”—a single institution comprising several campuses, sharing students, faculty, staff and accreditation. Subsequent reorganizations combined academic departments, consolidated colleges and schools, and reduced staff and administration as the university expanded its West and Polytechnic campuses. The Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus was also expanded, with several colleges and schools relocating there. The university established learning centers throughout the state, including The Arizona State University Colleges at Lake Havasu City and programs in Thatcher, Yuma, and Tucson. Students at these centers can choose from several Arizona State University degree and certificate programs.

During Crow’s tenure, and aided by hundreds of millions of dollars in donations, The Arizona State University began a years-long research facility capital building effort that led to the establishment of the Biodesign Institute at The Arizona State University, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, and several large interdisciplinary research buildings. Along with the research facilities, the university faculty was expanded, including the addition of five Nobel Laureates. Since 2002, the university’s research expenditures have tripled and more than 1.5 million square feet of space has been added to the university’s research facilities.

The economic downturn that began in 2008 took a particularly hard toll on Arizona, resulting in large cuts to The Arizona State University ‘s budget. In response to these cuts, The Arizona State University capped enrollment, closed some four dozen academic programs, combined academic departments, consolidated colleges and schools, and reduced university faculty, staff and administrators; however, with an economic recovery underway in 2011, the university continued its campaign to expand the West and Polytechnic Campuses, and establish a low-cost, teaching-focused extension campus in Lake Havasu City.

As of 2011, an article in Slate reported that, “the bottom line looks good,” noting that:

“Since Crow’s arrival, The Arizona State University’s research funding has almost tripled to nearly $350 million. Degree production has increased by 45 percent. And thanks to an ambitious aid program, enrollment of students from Arizona families below poverty is up 647 percent.”

In 2015, the Thunderbird School of Global Management became the fifth Arizona State University campus, as the Thunderbird School of Global Management at The Arizona State University. Partnerships for education and research with Mayo Clinic established collaborative degree programs in health care and law, and shared administrator positions, laboratories and classes at the Mayo Clinic Arizona campus.

The Beus Center for Law and Society, the new home of The Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, opened in fall 2016 on the Downtown Phoenix campus, relocating faculty and students from the Tempe campus to the state capital.