Thursday, November 20, 2014

CIBER Spots Outcast Stars

Data from the Cosmic Infrared Background Experiment, or CIBER, provided support that background infrared light in the universe (seen by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope), comes from distant stars ejected from parent galaxies. 

"We think stars are being scattered out into space during galaxy collisions," said Michael Zemcov, Ph.D., experimental astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

Using smaller suborbital NASA rockets, CIBER spotted two cosmic infrared (IR) wavelengths shorter than those measured by Spitzer. The light appears to come from a previously undetected population of stars between galaxies and CIBER measurements suggest the IR glow between distant galaxies is caused by orphan stars.

To test whether stray stars have been spun off from parent galaxies, future CIBER experiments will check to see if the stars are still located in roughly the same neighborhood. Go science!

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