Astronomical surveys mapping regions of the Galaxy have been collected and studied for decades. These surveys, like the Waze of the Galaxy, allow researchers to compare previous data, further characterize objects or images of the sky, and learn more through statistical analysis. For the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) Diffuse Ionized Gas Survey (GDIGS), researchers took advantage of the power of the GBT, located in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, to better understand the impact of massive stars in the Milky Way.
GWAC research in the news.
Stellar feedback and an airborne observatory; a team led by a WVU researcher determined a nebula to be much younger than previously believed
Holly Legleiter |
In the southern sky, situated about 4,300 light years from Earth, lies RCW 120, an enormous glowing cloud of gas and dust. This cloud, known as an emission nebula, is formed of ionized gases and emits light at various wavelengths. An international team led by West Virginia University researchers studied RCW 120 to analyze the effects of stellar feedback, the process by which stars inject energy back into their environment. Their observations showed that stellar winds cause the region to expand rapidly, which enabled them to constrain the age of the region. These findings indicate that RCW 120 must be less than 150,000 years old, which is very young for such a nebula.