Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

From galaxy collisions to star birth: ISO finds the missing link

30.03.2005


Data from ISO, the infrared observatory of the European Space Agency (ESA), have provided the first direct evidence that shock waves generated by galaxy collisions excite the gas from which new stars will form. The result also provides important clues on how the birth of the first stars was triggered and speeded up in the early Universe.



By observing our galaxy and others, scientists have long concluded that the explosion of massive stars like supernovae generates shock waves and ‘winds’ that travel through and excite the surrounding gas clouds. This process triggers the collapse of nearby gas that eventually leads to the birth of new stars, like a domino effect.

The signature of this process is the radiation emitted by molecular hydrogen. When hydrogen molecules are ‘excited’ by the energy of a nearby explosion, they emit a distinctive type of radiation that can be detected in the infrared.


This type of radiation is also observed in places where galaxies have collided with one another and the formation of new stars goes at a very high rate. So far, however, there was no clear picture of what happens in the time between the collision of two galaxies and the birth of the first new stars.

The missing link has now been found by a team of German astronomers that have analysed ISO data of the galaxy pair nicknamed the ‘Antennae’ (NGC 4038/4039). These two galaxies, located 60 million light-years away in the constellation ‘Corvus’ (the Crow), are currently at an early stage of encounter. The scientists noticed that the overlapping region of the two colliding galaxies is very rich in molecular hydrogen, which is in an excited state.

In particular, the radiation from molecular hydrogen is evenly strong in the northern and southern areas of the overlap region. Much to the team’s surprise, however, there are too few supernova explosions or regions of intense star formation there to explain the observed molecular hydrogen emission. So, the excitation of the molecular hydrogen must be the signature of that observationally rare pre-star birth phase in which hydrogen is excited by the mechanical energy produced in the collision and transported by shock waves.

In other words, these results provide the first direct evidence of the missing link between gas collision and the birth of the first stars. The team estimates that when the gas will collapse to form new stars, during the next million years, the Antennae galaxy will become at least two times brighter in the infrared.

The astronomers believe that star formation induced by shocks may have played a role in the evolution of proto-galaxies in the first thousand million years of life of our Universe. Shock waves produced through the collision of proto-galaxies may have triggered the condensation process and speeded-up the birth of the very first stars. These objects, made up of only hydrogen and helium, would otherwise have taken much longer to form, since light elements such as hydrogen and helium take a long time to cool down and condense into a proto-star. Shock waves from the first cloud collisions may have been the helping hand.

Alberto Salama | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int
http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEM7SVRMD6E_index_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht One-way roads for spin currents
23.05.2018 | Singapore University of Technology and Design

nachricht Tunable diamond string may hold key to quantum memory
23.05.2018 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

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: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnesium magnificent for plasmonic applications

23.05.2018 | Materials Sciences

Tunable diamond string may hold key to quantum memory

23.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Building a brain, cell by cell: Researchers make a mini neuron network (of two)

23.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>