Mystery light could be 'lonesome' stars

Oct. 24, 2012 at 9:31 PM   |   Comments

PASADENA, Calif., Oct. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. astronomers say a mystery glow of infrared light seen across the entire sky may be linked to isolated stars beyond the boundaries of galaxies.

A study using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope suggests these stars once belonged to the galaxies before violent galactic mergers stripped them away into the relatively empty space outside of their former homes, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reported Wednesday.

"The infrared background glow in our sky has been a huge mystery," said lead study author Asantha Cooray of the University of California, Irvine. "We have new evidence this light is from the stars that linger between galaxies. Individually, the stars are too faint to be seen, but we think we are seeing their collective glow."

Astronomers used the Spitzer telescope to study a large portion of the sky, covering an arc equivalent to the diameters of 50 full Earth moons.

"Studying the faint infrared background was one of the core goals of our survey, and we carefully designed the observations in order to directly address the important, challenging question of what causes the background glow," JPL scientist Daniel Stern said.

The findings have led the astronomers to suggest this sprinkling of stars in the spaces between galaxies makes up a significant fraction of the background infrared light.

Topics: Daniel Stern
© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Recommended UPI Stories
Featured UPI Collection
Celebrity Couples of 2014 [PHOTOS]

Celebrity Couples of 2014 [PHOTOS]

Most Popular
Mars rover spots rock shaped like thigh bone
Parched land in the drought-riddled West is actually rising
NEC touts its fingerprint technology
Tech industry All Stars developing 'Star Trek'-style communication badges
Latvia boasts world's first net for migrating bats
Trending News