Satellite begins its ultraviolet survey

Late last month, NASA released the first images taken by the recently launched Galaxy Evolution Explorer satellite. The mission is the first large sky survey at ultraviolet wavelengths and is designed to determine the history of star formation over the past 10 billion years. Such observations will provide clues to how galaxies form and evolve.

It took only 4 minutes of the satellite’s observing time to generate each of the two new images, taken on May 21 and 22. Nonetheless, the image taken in far-ultraviolet wavelengths captured more than 400 stars and star-forming galaxies in the constellation Hercules, while the near-ultraviolet picture recorded more than 1,500 such objects. Over the next 28 months, astronomers expect that the satellite will image millions of galaxies.

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