Galaxies can die early because the gas they need to make new stars is suddenly ejected, research published today suggests.
Most galaxies age slowly as they run out of raw materials needed for growth over billions of years. But a pilot study looking at galaxies that die young has found some might shoot out this gas early on, causing them to redden and kick the bucket prematurely.
Astrophysicist Ivy Wong, from the University of Western Australia node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), said there are two main types of galaxies; 'blue' galaxies that are still actively making new stars and 'red' galaxies that have stopped growing.
Most galaxies transition from blue to 'red and dead' slowly after two billion years or more, but some transition suddenly after less than a billion years--young in cosmic terms.
Dr Wong and her colleagues looked for the first time at four galaxies on the cusp of their star formation shutting down, each at a different stage in the transition.
The researchers found that the galaxies approaching the end of their star formation phase had expelled most of their gas.
Dr Wong said it was initially hard to get time on telescopes to do the research because other astronomers did not believe the dying galaxies would have any gas left to see.
The exciting result means the scientists will be able to use powerful telescopes to conduct a larger survey and discover the cause of this sudden shutdown in star formation.
Dr Wong said it is unclear why the gas was being expelled. "One possibility is that it could be blown out by the galaxy's supermassive black hole," she said.
"Another possibility is that the gas could be ripped out by a neighbouring galaxy, although the galaxies in the pilot project are all isolated and don't appear to have others nearby."
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Professor Kevin Schawinski said the researchers predicted that the galaxies had to rapidly lose their gas to explain their fast deaths.
"We selected four galaxies right at the time where this gas ejection should be occurring," he said. "It was amazing to see that this is exactly what happens!"
The study appeared in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, published by Oxford University Press.
Further information: ICRAR is a joint venture between Curtin University and The University of Western Australia with support and funding from the State Government of Western Australia.
Original publication details: 'Misalignment between cold gas and stellar components in early-type galaxies' O. Ivy Wong, K. Schawinski, G.I.G. J'ozsa, C.M. Urry, C.J. Lintott, B.D. Simmons, S. Kaviraj and K.L. Masters. Published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society February 2, 2015. Available at http://mnras.
Dr Ivy Wong, ICRAR - UWA
Ph: +61 8 6488 7761 | M: +61 402 828 363 | E: Ivy.Wong@icrar.org
Pete Wheeler, ICRAR Media Contact
Ph: +61 8 6488 7758 | M: +61 423 982 018 | E: Pete.Wheeler@icrar.org
David Stacey, UWA Media Manager
Ph: +61 8 6488 7977 | E: David.Stacey@uwa.edu.au
Professor Kevin Schawinski, (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich)
Ph: +44 44 633 07 51 | M: +41 79 647 11 56 | E: Kevin.Schawinski@phys.ethz.ch
Pete Wheeler | EurekAlert!
CCNY physicists master unexplored electron property
26.07.2017 | City College of New York
Large, distant comets more common than previously thought
26.07.2017 | University of Maryland
Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers
Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...
Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.
At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
26.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
26.07.2017 | Life Sciences
26.07.2017 | Earth Sciences