Key Takeaways

  1. NASA’s NEOWISE space telescope has captured a 12-year time-lapse movie of the entire sky, revealing motion and changes across the universe.
  2. The telescope takes images in all directions every six months and stitches them together to create all-sky maps.
  3. Comparing the maps over time allows scientists to study time-domain astronomy and observe changes in the position and brightness of objects.
  4. NEOWISE was originally a data processing project for asteroid detection but was repurposed to track near-Earth objects and study objects outside our solar system.
  5. The data from NEOWISE has contributed to studies of brown dwarfs, protostars, and supermassive black holes, providing valuable insights into star formation and the structure of the universe.

NASA’s NEOWISE space telescope has produced a 12-year time-lapse movie of the entire sky, offering a captivating view of motion and changes across the cosmos. The telescope captures images in all directions every six months, and by stitching these images together, scientists have created “all-sky” maps showing the location and brightness of countless objects. This time-lapse movie, composed of 18 maps with two more to be released soon, provides a unique perspective on the dynamic nature of the universe.

Also Read: Timelapse of the entire universe

While each all-sky map is a valuable resource for astronomers, viewing them in sequence as a time-lapse reveals changes that have occurred over a decade. This approach, known as time-domain astronomy, enables researchers to identify objects that have changed position or brightness over time. Contrary to the perception that the night sky remains static, this movie showcases the vibrant and active nature of the universe, with stars flaring and exploding, asteroids whizzing by, and black holes tearing stars apart.

Originally designed as a data processing project for asteroid detection, NEOWISE was repurposed to track near-Earth objects and study objects beyond our solar system. The spacecraft, equipped with cryogenically cooled detectors sensitive to infrared light, scans the sky every six months, providing valuable data for astronomers. The infrared light, emitted by various cosmic objects, including nearby stars and luminous galaxies, is not visible to the human eye but can be detected by NEOWISE.

NEOWISE’s observations have significantly contributed to the study of brown dwarfs, protostars, and supermassive black holes. The catalog generated from NEOWISE’s all-sky maps, called CatWISE, aids researchers in studying brown dwarfs—objects that resemble stars but lack sufficient mass for fusion. Additionally, NEOWISE’s monitoring of protostars over several years helps scientists understand the early stages of star formation. Furthermore, NEOWISE data, combined with echo mapping techniques, has allowed scientists to measure the size of disks of hot, glowing gas surrounding distant black holes.

This illustration shows the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft in Earth orbit. The WISE mission concluded in 2011, but in 2013 the spacecraft was repurposed to find and study asteroids and other near-Earth objects (NEOs). The mission and spacecraft were renamed NEOWISE.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The unexpected longevity of the NEOWISE mission and the wealth of data it has collected have exceeded expectations. This ongoing project, managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has proven instrumental in deepening our understanding of the universe and its various phenomena. By capturing the ever-changing cosmos, NEOWISE opens new doors for scientific exploration and fosters a greater appreciation for the dynamic nature of the night sky.

Read full article on NASA.GOV

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments