The Indian Space Research Organisation has released an image of a star cluster from a faint dwarf irregular galaxy – Wolf-Lundmark-Melotte or WLM – that is located three million light years away.
The image was captured by Astrosat, which is India’s first dedicated space observatory launched two years back.
Shot by scientists from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (Bengaluru), the image, with clusters of stars seen in blue and yellow dots, has been put up on Isro’s website.
Scientist Annapurni Subramaniam from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru and her student Chayan Mondal used the ultraviolet imaging telescope onboard the Astrosat to image a younger star clusters in WLM.
They wanted to study and understand how this diminutive galaxy managed to form new stars extremely efficiently, despite having low mass (thousand times less than milky way) and metallicity, which hinders forming of new stars.
Interestingly, the galaxy manages to form stars at a rate that is 12 times higher than our own Milky Way. Astronomers are still not sure as to how WLM does this.
IIA scientists are currently analysing the data they have collected to find the answers.
It has five intruments on board – the Ultra Violet Imaging Telescope, the Soft X-ray Telescope, the Large Area X-ray Proportional Counter, the Cadmium-Zinc-Telluride Imager and the Scanning Sky Monitor.
“AstroSat Picture of the Month” is an initiative of the Public Outreach and Education Committee of the Astronomical Society of India and AstroSat Training and Outreach Team.