Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Astronomers discover densest galaxy ever

25.09.2013
Imagine the distance between the sun and the star nearest to it – a star called Alpha Centauri. That’s a distance of about 4 light years. Now, imagine as many as 10,000 of our suns crammed into that relatively small space.

That is about the density of a galaxy that was recently discovered by an international team of astronomers led by a Michigan State University faculty member.


Astronomers have discovered what may be the densest galaxy in the nearby universe. The team that discovered the rare ultra-compact dwarf galaxy was led by MSU’s Jay Strader. The larger image was captured by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. The inset photo of the galaxy was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

“This galaxy is more massive than any ultra-compact drawfs of comparable size,” said Jay Strader, MSU assistant professor of physics and astronomy, “and is arguably the densest galaxy known in the local universe.”

As detailed in the recent edition of the publication Astrophysical Journal Letters, the ultra-compact dwarf galaxy was found in what’s known as the Virgo cluster of galaxies, a collection of galaxies located about 54 million light years from our own Milky Way.

What makes this galaxy, dubbed M60-UCD1, so remarkable is that about half of its mass is found within a radius of only about 80 light years. This would make the density of stars about 15,000 times greater than found in Earth’s neighborhood in the Milky Way.

“Traveling from one star to another would be a lot easier in M60-UCD1 than it is in our galaxy,” Strader said. “Since the stars are so much closer in this galaxy, it would take just a fraction of the time.”

The discovery of ultra-compact galaxies is relatively new – only within the past 10 years or so. Until then, astronomers could see these “things” way off in the distance but assumed they were either single stars or very-distant galaxies.

Another intriguing aspect of this galaxy is the presence of a bright X-ray source in its center. One explanation for this is a giant black hole weighing in at some 10 million times the mass of our sun.

Astronomers are trying to determine if M60-UCD1 and other ultra-compact dwarf galaxies are either born as really jam-packed star clusters or if they are galaxies that get smaller because they have stars ripped away from them. The possible massive black hole, combined with the high galaxy mass and sun-like levels of elements found in the stars, favor the latter idea.

A giant black hole at the center of M60-UCD1 helps tip the scales against the scenario where this galaxy was once a star cluster, since such large black holes are not found in these types of objects.

The galaxy was discovered using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Follow-up observations were done with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ground-based optical telescopes, including the Keck 10-meter telescope in Hawaii.

“Twenty years ago we couldn’t have done this,” Strader said. “We didn’t have Hubble or Chandra. This is one of those projects where you bring together the full force of NASA’s great observatories, plus ground-based resources.”

Tom Oswald | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.msu.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Major discovery in controlling quantum states of single atoms
20.02.2018 | Institute for Basic Science

nachricht Observing and controlling ultrafast processes with attosecond resolution
20.02.2018 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Lipid asymmetry' plays key role in activating immune cells

20.02.2018 | Life Sciences

MRI technique differentiates benign breast lesions from malignancies

20.02.2018 | Medical Engineering

Major discovery in controlling quantum states of single atoms

20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>