Peering deep into time with one of the world's newest, most sophisticated telescopes, astronomers have found a galaxy - AzTEC-3 - that gives birth annually to 500 times the number of suns as the Milky Way galaxy, according to a new Cornell University-led study published Nov. 10 in the Astrophysical Journal.
Lead author Dominik Riechers, Cornell assistant professor of astronomy, and an international team of researchers gazed back - with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile - over 12.5 billion years to find bustling galaxies creating stars at a breakneck rate.
Today, Earth's Milky Way galaxy produces the equivalent of perhaps two to three new suns a year. The AzTEC-3 galaxy, observed to be emerging from the Big Bang's primordial soup, creates about 1,100 suns a year, corresponding to about three suns each day.
ALMA's remarkable sensitivity and spatial resolution was key to observe this galaxy and others with unprecedented detail in far-infrared/submillimeter wavelength light. It also found, for the first time, star-forming gas in three additional, extremely distant members of an emerging galactic protocluster, which is associated with AzTEC-3.
"The ALMA data reveal that AzTEC-3 is a very compact, highly disturbed galaxy that is bursting with new stars at close to its theoretically predicted maximum limit and is surrounded by a population of more normal, but also actively star-forming galaxies," said Riechers. "This particular grouping of galaxies represents an important milestone in the evolution of our universe - the formation of a galaxy cluster and the early assemblage of large, mature galaxies."
Riechers says that galaxies with this quick rate of star production have been known to exist in the middle-aged universe, say 3 billion to 6 billion years old, but this production is surprising for galaxies in their cosmic infancy. "We expect this out of later galaxies in a more mature universe, but not from one of the earliest," he said.
In the early universe, starburst galaxies like AzTEC-3 formed stars at a frenetic pace, fueled by the copious quantities of material they devoured and by merging with other adolescent galaxies. Over billions of years, according to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, these galactic mergers continued, eventually producing the large galaxies and clusters of galaxies seen in the cosmos today.
"One of the primary science goals of ALMA is the detection and detailed study of galaxies throughout cosmic time," said Chris Carilli, an astronomer with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Socorro, New Mexico. "These new observations help us put the pieces together by showing the first steps of a galaxy merger in the early universe."
The astronomers believe that AzTEC-3 and the other nearby galaxies appear to be part of the same system, but are not yet gravitationally bound into a clearly defined cluster. This is why the astronomers refer to them collectively as a protocluster. "AzTEC-3 is currently undergoing an extreme, but short-lived event," said Riechers. "This is perhaps the most violent phase in its evolution, leading to a star formation activity level that is very rare at its cosmic epoch."
ALMA is a group of radio telescopes partially managed by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. It obtains funding internationally, including from the National Science Foundation.
Syl Kacapyr | EurekAlert!
From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'
23.02.2017 | University of Wisconsin-Madison
Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars
22.02.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science
In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport
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”...
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...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
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...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
24.02.2017 | Life Sciences
24.02.2017 | Life Sciences
24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News