Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Infant galaxy found

09.10.2001


Abell 2218, and the area where the infants were found.
© ESA/NASA


Large galaxies bend and magnify light from distant sources, giving us a view back in time.
© ESA/NASA


Cosmic lens magnifies faint galactic building-block.

Astronomers have peered deep into space and time and spotted a baby galaxy. Their results suggest that the tiny star-forming region may have helped to build today’s Universe1.

"We believe this is one of the galactic building-blocks that join together to make larger galaxies," says Konrad Kuijken, of the Kapteyn Institute in Groningen, the Netherlands, a member of the team that found the object. The merging over time of galaxies born just after the Universe began is thought to have made large galaxies, such as our Milky Way.



"This is a significant step towards understanding galaxy formation," says astronomer Rob Kennicutt of the University of Arizona in Tucson. More building-blocks must be found to get to the bottom of it, he says.

The international team had been on the trail of baby galaxies for over a year. Confirming their existence is no easy task. They are small, very far away and give out far less light than telescopes can detect.

To find this one, says Kuijken, "we had to make our own luck". This meant exploiting a phenomenon predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity: gravitational lensing. The vast gravity of very massive objects such as galaxies bends and magnifies, light coming from behind them, much as a glass lens bends light in a telescope.

The team pointed the Hubble Space Telescope and the Hawaii-based Keck telescope towards one such gravitational lens - a massive cluster of nearby galaxies called Abell 2218.

After two lengthy exposures, the team found two faint red blobs representing the light from the baby galaxy magnified more than 30 times and split in two by the gravitational lens.

Concluding that they were looking at a baby galaxy, the discoverers, typically a reserved lot, "literally jumped up and down" with excitement, confesses team member Jean-Paul Kneib of the Mid-Pyrenees Observatory in Toulouse, France.

Measuring the wavelengths and brightness of its light, the team calculate that the baby galaxy is about 200 times smaller than our Galaxy and 13.4 billion light years away. Signatures in this 13.4-billion-year-old light also reveal that the infant was actively making new stars at that time - just 600 million years after the birth of the Universe.

Combined, these characteristics mean the object is most likely to be a galactic building-block. "It’s exactly like what our models predict," says Kuijken.

Kuijken is hopeful that the team will find more such objects. "There are many other galaxy clusters in the sky," he says, and behind some of these giant lenses may lurk more infant galaxies.

References
  1. Name, A.B.Title. Astrophysical Journal Letters, in press (2001).


TOM CLARKE | Nature News Service
Further information:
http://www.nature.com/nsu/011011/011011-4.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold
26.06.2017 | Toyohashi University of Technology

nachricht A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL
23.06.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>