Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The Invisible Galaxies That Could Not Hide

16.02.2006


Metal-Rich Distant Galaxy Found With ESO’s VLT


A distant quasar is used as a beacon in the Universe. Galaxies and intergalactic material that lie between the quasar and us will reveal themselves by the features seen in the spectrum.



Astronomers, using the unique capabilities offered by the high-resolution spectrograph UVES on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, have found a metal-rich hydrogen cloud in the distant universe. The result may help to solve the missing metal problem and provides insight on how galaxies form.

“Our discovery shows that significant quantities of metals are to be found in very remote galaxies that are too faint to be directly seen”, said Celine Peroux (ESO), lead-author of the paper presenting the results [1].


The astronomers studied the light emitted by a quasar located 9 billion light-years away that is partially absorbed by an otherwise invisible galaxy sitting 6.3 billion light-years away along the line of sight.

The analysis of the spectrum shows that this galaxy has four times more metals than the Sun. This is the first time one finds such a large amount of ‘metals’ [2] in a very distant object. The observations also indicate that the galaxy must be very dusty.

Almost all of the elements present in the Universe were formed in stars, which themselves are members of galaxies. By estimating how many stars formed over the history of the Universe, it is possible to estimate how much metals should have been produced. This apparently straightforward reasoning has however since several years been confronted with an apparent contradiction: adding up the amount of metals observable today in distant astronomical objects falls short of the predicted value. When the contribution of galaxies now observed at cosmological distances is added to that of the intergalactic medium, the total amounts for no more than a tenth of the metals expected.

Studying distant galaxies is however a difficult task. The further a galaxy, the fainter it is, and the small or intrinsically faint ones won’t be observed. This may introduce severe biases in the observations as only the largest and most active galaxies are picked up.

Astronomers therefore came up with other ways to study distant galaxies: they use quasars, most probably the brightest distant objects known, as beacons in the Universe.

Interstellar clouds of gas in galaxies, located between the quasars and us on the same line of sight, absorb parts of the light emitted by the quasars. The resulting spectrum consequently presents dark ‘valleys’ that can be attributed to well-known elements. Thus, astronomers can measure the amount of metals present in these galaxies – that are in effect invisible - at various epochs.

“This can best be done by high-resolution spectrographs on the largest telescopes, such as the Ultra-violet and Visible Echelle Spectrograph (UVES) on ESO’s Kueyen 8.2-m telescope at the Paranal Observatory,” said Péroux.

Her team studied in detail the spectrum of the quasar SDSS J1323-0021 that shows clear indications of absorption by a cloud of hydrogen and metals located between the quasar and us. From a careful analysis of the spectrum, the astronomers found this ‘system’ to be four times richer in zinc than the Sun. Other metals such as iron appear to have condensed into dust grains.

“If a large number of such ’invisible’ galaxies with high metal content were to be discovered, they might well alleviate considerably the missing metals problem”, said Péroux.

The full text of this release along with an image is available at http://www.eso.org/outreach/press-rel/pr-2006/pr-06-06.html

Henri Boffin | alfa
Further information:
http://www.eso.org/outreach/press-rel/pr-2006/pr-06-06.html

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Penn vet research identifies new target for taming Ebola
12.01.2017 | University of Pennsylvania

nachricht The strange double life of Dab2
10.01.2017 | University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>