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 rebuild its formation history through genetic algorithms. This tool was published in a recent article and accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
‘Fado’ comes from the Latin word ‘Fatum’, meaning 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, together with the gas that those stars ionize with their radiation.
An innovative and distinctive feature of FADO is the use of genetic algorithms, which simulates galaxy evolution like the evolution of a living organism. It works through breeding multiple genetic threads for a galaxy, each defined by a set of which evolve through the exchange of ‘chromosomes’, mutations and selection effects until a population that matches the observed stars and gas emission of the galaxy is reached.
Previous computer models developed for this purpose undergo critical uncertainties, partially because they consider only the light from stars. FADO’s unique physical and mathematical concept produces a great gain in computational efficiency, making the exploration of the star formation history of millions of galaxies an affordable task.