Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Spitzer Space Telescope pinpoints elusive but violent starbursts

20.07.2004


A major breakthrough in pinpointing some of the most primordial and violently star forming galaxies in the Universe has been made by a joint collaboration of UK and US astronomers using the Spitzer Space Telescope to resolve primordial galaxies initially detected by the James Clerk Maxwell telescope [JCMT]. UK astronomers from the University of Kent, The Royal Observatory Edinburgh and the University of Oxford teamed up with American cosmologists to finally identify these elusive galaxies. The work will be published in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Spitzer Special Issue in September 2004.



Back in 1995, the UK’s SCUBA camera (Sub-millimetre Common User Bolometer Array) on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii, which detects light with wavelengths just under a millimetre, began finding fuzzy traces of very distant, primordial galaxies. Some of these are either too distant or too dusty to be seen even by the Hubble Space Telescope. But SCUBA’s images on their own, and those of other similar cameras, are not fine enough: within the fuzzy SCUBA detections are sometimes many galaxies. So astronomers have spent enormous effort following up these SCUBA galaxies on other telescopes, particularly radio telescopes, to answer the question: which one is the primordial galaxy, and which ones are in the foreground? But even with the most sensitive radio telescope images ever made, only around half the SCUBA galaxies can be pinpointed unambiguously. Even worse, the radio telescopes miss all of the most distant and most primordial of SCUBA’s galaxies.

UK and US astronomers teamed up to combine Spitzer’s sharp images with SCUBA’s ability to find primordial galaxies. The team were stunned to find all the SCUBA galaxies in Spitzer’s field of view detected in only ten minutes with Spitzer. These breakthrough observations, described as a ‘watershed’ by the team, finally give astronomers a way of unambiguously pinpointing even the most distant of SCUBA’s galaxies. This could only be done by combining SCUBA with the Spitzer Space Telescope: SCUBA shows there is a primordial, violent starburst somewhere in the vicinity, which is then pinpointed by Spitzer.


At the same time, Spitzer solved another mystery about SCUBA galaxies. When Galileo first trained a telescope at the Milky Way, he was astonished to find the fuzzy light resolved into many individual stars. This is, in essence, what the team of astronomers have done with the diffuse extragalactic background light seen from all directions at a wavelength of about half a millimetre. By comparing the distinct Spitzer galaxies with the SCUBA data, the team discovered that they had identified the sources of this cosmic background for the first time. This background is caused by an important population of galaxies: most of the stars in the early Universe are created in these galaxies, and star formation is where everything comes from - including the material that makes planets like our own. Finding where this star formation happens tells us, in a sense, where we came from. Identifying most of these galaxies is a second coup for the joint UK/US team.

Dr Stephen Serjeant (University of Kent, UK) said, ‘Our Spitzer Space Telescope images picked our galaxies out astonishingly quickly, in only ten minutes, when the community has been pouring effort into detecting them. This really is pioneering work and a great triumph for the Spitzer Space Telescope and the UK’s SCUBA camera. To cap it all, at the same time we’ve found the galaxies that dominate the star formation in the early Universe. The Earth and everything on it is made from the dust created in stars like those – people, trees, beef burgers, the lot.’

Dr Rob Ivison (Royal Observatory Edinburgh, UK) said, ‘In 10 minutes, the Spitzer Space Telescope has managed to pinpoint the galaxies we have been chasing for 7 years. We can finally begin to sort the babies and teenagers of the galaxy world from the adults and senior citizens.’

Dr Hervé Dole (University of Arizona USA and IAS, Orsay, France) said, ‘These Spitzer observations were designed as the first joint survey using the MIPS and IRAC instruments on Spitzer, to assess the instrument sensitivities. As a matter of fact, it’s a great technological, operational and scientific success, overwhelming our wildest expectations. This demonstrates the amazing capabilities of Spitzer for studying galaxy evolution at high redshifts; no doubt that deeper and larger ongoing surveys will give even more exciting results!’

Dr Steve Willner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, USA) said, ‘We expected to detect one or a few of these galaxies, but I was stunned that we detected all of the ones we looked at. The new data finally tell us what these galaxies are all about. We’ve known all along that they had to be far away and rapidly turning all their gas into stars, but now we know their true distances and ages.’

Karen Baxter | alfa
Further information:
http://www.kent.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'
23.02.2017 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars
22.02.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

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: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

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...

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

New pop-up strategy inspired by cuts, not folds

27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Sandia uses confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance

27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

Decoding the genome's cryptic language

27.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>