An international team of astrophysicists has just unveiled the most complete atlas of nuclear rings, enormous star-forming ring-shaped regions that circle certain galactic nuclei. The catalogue, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, includes 113 such rings in 107 galaxies.
“AINUR (the Atlas of Images of Nuclear Rings) is the most complete atlas of nuclear rings created to date”, Sébastien Comerón, a researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC), and co-author of the joint study with other scientists from the universities of La Laguna, Oulu (Finland) and Alabama (United States), tells SINC.
The atlas has just been published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and covers 113 nuclear rings in 107 different galaxies. Six are dust rings in elliptical galaxies, while the rest (the majority) are star-forming rings in disc galaxies.
The nuclear rings are ring-shaped, star-forming configurations located around galactic nuclei. They range in size on average from between 500 to 3,000 light years, and they are very bright because they contain an abundance of young stars, including some extremely massive ones. This kind of star has a short lifetime but shines very brightly before exploding as a supernova.
To find the rings, the astrophysicists used images from around 500 galaxies observed by the Hubble space telescope, which belongs to NASA and the European Space Agency, as well as using other references. The images were processed using filters, generating various kinds of maps to help identify the rings more easily.