When astronomers try to understand how galaxies from, they encounter a problem: It’s complicated.

The physics of matter combined with star formation, multi-phase gas, supernovae, dust and supermassive black holes all influence the galaxy formation process. This means that astronomers need data from a large number of galaxies to perform detailed statistical analyses on each of the influencing factors to see how they affect galaxy formation.

The Sydney-AAO Multi-Object Integral-Field Spectrograph (SAMI) Galaxy Survey began in March 2013, with the intention of creating a large survey of 4400 galaxies across a large range of environments. The key science goals of the SAMI Survey are to answer the following questions:

1. What is the physical role of environment in galaxy evolution?

2. How is mass and angular momentum built up in galaxies?

3. How does gas get into and out of galaxies, and how does this drive star formation?

SAMI uses plate-plugged optical fibres that feed the AAOmega spectrograph to collect data of 13 galaxies simultaneously.  Each of the 13 optical fibres are actually fused fibre bundles called "hexabundles."  Each hexabundle has 61 individual fibres which can each collect a unique spectrum from different parts across the galaxy.  Collecting data in this way will allow SAMI to collect an order of magnitude larger sample of spatially resolved galaxies than previously existed. 

Dr Amanda Bauer installing the optical fiber bundles into SAMI.

Dr Amanda Bauer installing the optical fibre bundles into SAMI. Image: AAO

To learn more about SAMI and its research goal, please visit the SAMI survey website or watch our video detailing A Night Observing with SAMI.

Add new comment