Astronomers were able to document and study a TIE-shaped galaxy located millions of light-years away with the help of two different National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The findings, which were published earlier this week on The Astrophysical Journal, detailed the important takeaways of the study conducted. In an article by Jeannette Kazmierczak on the website SciTechDaily, research lead Matthew Lister shared that the reason behind giving the galaxy its nickname is because it reminded him of the TIE fighter spacecraft from Star Wars used by Darth Vader.
Officially named TXS 0128+554, it was first detected five years ago by the space agency’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. The equipment was able to detect a faint source of gamma rays coming from which intrigued researchers. This lead to a more in-depth look at the matter using another one of NASA’s top-notch tools – the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
Astronomers were able to tabulate important findings from the research. The galaxy TXS 0128+554 is 500 million light-years away located in the Cassiopeia constellation. Classified as an active galaxy, it is linked to a supermassive black hole which is around 1 billion times heavier than our Solar System’s Sun. What is an active galaxy? An active galaxy, according to the American Museum of Natural History, releases massive amounts of energy compared to a normal galaxy. This large amount of energy released comes in the form of radio waves to gamma rays. Why the activity? It is because of a supermassive black hole located in its nucleus.
TXS 0128 (a shortened name of the galaxy) is not the only active galaxy out there in the vast universe. In fact, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has already identified and detected more than three thousand active galaxies. This feat is achieved with Fermi’s Large Area Telescope. This telescope does its observations of the night sky eight times a day with three-hour intervals.
But astronomers did not stop there. They also fed supplementary data with other NASA missions in order to document and observe TXS 0128 at different radio frequencies. Being able to do this leads to experts having a more detailed, three dimensional-esque photo of the said active galaxy.
According to a co-author of the study, which was quoted by Kazmierczak on the same online article, a universe is a three-dimensional object however documentation is only done with 2-D models. They were lucky, he shared, that they were able to document the recently discovered active galaxy in a more detailed and representative way of its true nature and structure.
But there are still more things to be studied by experts when it comes to TXS 012B. For instance, they have learned that there was a fluctuation in the signals that were detected and observed on Earth. There was even a point where it stopped emitting signals for more than five decades before being detected again by NASA’s facilities a decade after.
Elizabeth Hays, Fermi’s project scientist over at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, was quoted stressing the important implications of the latest discovery as well as the methodology that went through it. She reiterated that multiwavelength observations are significant for studying cosmic bodies when it comes to different ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum.
NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center. It has several contributions and partnerships with different entities all over the world including Japan, Germany, and Sweden. Meanwhile, the Chandra program is managed by the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.