Endeavour Crew Maps Stars, Checks Weather in Galaxies

<i> from Associated Press</i>

Using the space shuttle Endeavour’s telescopes, astronomers on Friday mapped stars in the nearby Andromeda nebula while other scientists put together a weather update for a galaxy 10 billion light-years away.

Astronauts pointed the three ultraviolet telescopes toward the galaxy M31, also known as the Andromeda nebula. The giant spiral is one of the Milky Way’s closest neighbors at 2.2 million light-years.

Scientists are working to determine the number and location of associations, a mysterious type of drifting star cluster not apparently held together by gravity, in the northern section of M31.


The instruments were also pointed toward a galaxy that has a scorching halo of gas above and below its main disk. Temperatures in the so-called corona are believed to be anywhere from 100,000 degrees to 1 million degrees Fahrenheit.

NASA astronomer Andrew Smith, who is working with one of the shuttle telescopes, said he wants to pinpoint the temperature and the process that creates the gas halo.