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 Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified
20.02.2017 | Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

nachricht Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain
20.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>