Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA's Hubble Finds Dwarf Galaxies Formed More Than Their Fair Share of Universe's Stars

20.06.2014

They may be little, but they pack a big star-forming punch. New observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope show small galaxies, also known as dwarf galaxies, are responsible for forming a large proportion of the universe's stars.


Hiding among these thousands of galaxies are faint dwarf galaxies residing in the early universe, between 2 and 6 billion years after the big bang, an important time period when most of the stars in the universe were formed. Some of these galaxies are undergoing starbursts.

Image Credit: NASA and ESA

Studying this early epoch of the universe's history is critical to fully understanding how these stars formed and how galaxies grew and evolved 3.5 to 6 billion years after the beginning of the universe. The result supports a decade-long investigation into whether there is a link between a galaxy's mass and its star-forming activity, and helps paint a consistent picture of events in the early universe.

"We already suspected these kinds of galaxies would contribute to the early wave of star formation, but this is the first time we've been able to measure the effect they actually had," said  Hakim Atek of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, lead author of the study published in the June 19 online issue of The Astrophysical Journal. "They appear to have had a surprisingly huge role to play."

... more about:
»EPFL »Flight »Hubble »NASA »Polytechnique »Telescope

Previous studies of star-forming galaxies were restricted to the analysis of mid- or high-mass galaxies, leaving out the numerous dwarf galaxies that existed in this era of prolific star formation. Astronomers conducted a recent study using data from Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) to take a further and significant step forward in understanding this formative era by examining a sample of starburst galaxies in the young universe. Starburst galaxies form stars at a furiously fast rate, far above what is considered by experts to be a normal rate of star formation.

The infrared capabilities of WFC3 have allowed astronomers to finally calculate how much these low-mass dwarf galaxies contributed to the star population in our universe.

"These galaxies are forming stars so quickly they could actually double their entire mass of stars in only 150 million years -- an incredibly short astronomical timescale," adds co-author Jean-Paul Kneib, also of EPFL.

Researchers say such massive growth would take most “normal” galaxies 1 to 3 billion years.

In addition to adding new insight to how and where the stars in our universe formed, this latest finding may also help to unravel the secrets of galactic evolution. Galaxies evolve through a jumble of complex processes. As galaxies merge, they are consumed by newly-formed stars that feed on their combined gases, and exploding stars and supermassive black holes emit galactic material – a process that depletes the mass of a galaxy.

It is unusual to find a galaxy in a state of starburst, which suggests to researchers starburst galaxies are the result of an unusual incident in the past, such as a violent merger.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington.

For images and more information about Hubble, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/hubble

http://hubblesite.org/news/2014/25 

J.D. Harrington
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-5241
j.d.harrington@nasa.gov

Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
410-338-4493 / 410-338-4514
villard@stsci.edu

Ray Villard | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/june/nasas-hubble-finds-dwarf-galaxies-formed-more-than-their-fair-share-of-universes/#.U6NMT7HCD1c

Further reports about: EPFL Flight Hubble NASA Polytechnique Telescope

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New experiment provides route to macroscopic high-mass superpositions
24.10.2014 | University of Southampton

nachricht Big Black Holes Can Block New Stars
23.10.2014 | Johns Hopkins University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Comparing Apples and Oranges? A Colloquium on International Comparative Urban Research

22.10.2014 | Event News

Battery Conference April 2015 in Aachen

16.10.2014 | Event News

Experts discuss new developments in the field of stem cell research and cell therapy

10.10.2014 | Event News

 
Latest News

Precise and programmable biological circuits

24.10.2014 | Life Sciences

Desert Streams: Deceptively Simple

24.10.2014 | Earth Sciences

Modernized stainless steel continuous caster from Siemens goes on stream at Posco

24.10.2014 | Press release

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>