FADO: a ground-breaking tool to reconstruct the history of galaxies


Image of the Triangulum Galaxy (M33) taken by the VLT Survey Telescope (VST), at ESO's Paranal Observatory. Even in this normal spiral galaxy, nebular emission (shown in red) provides locally an important fraction of the optical luminosity, especially in HII regions and spiral arms. (Credit: ESO)

FADO is a new analysis tool, developed by Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço (IA) astronomers Jean Michel Gomes and Polychronis Papaderos, which uses light emitted by both stars and ionized gas in a galaxy, to reconstruct its formation history by means of genetic algorithms.

“Fado” derives from the Latin Fatum, which means fate or destiny, and it’s a tribute to Portugal’s immaterial cultural heritage type of music of the same name. Each galaxy has a fado – a narrative of its biography since the birth of its first stars. This fate is written in its electromagnetic spectrum, which contains the fossil records of multiple stellar populations that formed over several billion years, as well as the gas that those stars ionize with their radiation.

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