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Big Ear Studies Andromeda Galaxy

For the first several months of its life, the Big Ear radio telescope studied the Andromeda galaxy. Dr. John Kraus wrote in his book Big Ear Two:

"In spite of the incomplete status of our telescope we began an astronomical observing program with it in 1963. For several months I observed the great Andromeda galaxy. The sensitivity and resolution of our telescope was sufficient to make a map of the galaxy with the greatest detail obtained up to that time, and I published the results in an article bearing the intriguing title 'Does M31 Have a Halo?'

"I superimposed our radio contour map on a photograph of M31 taken at Perkins Observatory. Although the strongest radio emission occurred near the bright center of the galaxy, there were four prominent spurs in the radio map pointing approximately north, south, east and west, which had no optical counterpart, the spurs extending far beyond the optical limits of the galaxy somewhat in the manner of a halo. The implication was that an explosion in the galaxy at some prior time had ejected energetic electrons into the spurs which emitted radio waves but no visible light. Geoffrey Burbidge of the University of California at San Diego reproduced my radio-optical presentation in a Scientific American article probably because it suggested a much more violent past for the galaxy than hinted at by the optical photograph."

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Last modified: August 13, 2005