Demystifying Science — January 1, 2017


What is a Megamaser?

At core, they are cousins of lasers. Just as lasers are devices used to emit a beam of light by controlling the emission of photons from excited atoms, masers — a play on the word ‘laser’ — do the same in the microwave region. They can be made in labs or can also be found naturally in galaxies such as the Milky Way. Earlier this week, the Hubble telescope found a ‘Megamaser’ that was around 100 million times brighter than the masers found in galaxies like the Milky Way. This megamaser galaxy, called IRAS 16399-0937, is located over 370 million light years from Earth. It hosts a double nucleus, formed of two separate cores in the process of merging. The two components, named IRAS 16399N and IRAS 16399S for the northern and southern parts respectively, sit over 11,000 light years apart. However, they are both buried deep within the same swirl of cosmic gas and dust and are interacting, giving the galaxy its peculiar structure.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 4:35:10 PM |

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