Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Flies in a spider’s web: Galaxy caught in the making

In nature spiders earn our respect by constructing fascinating, well-organised webs in all shapes and sizes. But the beauty masks a cruel, fatal trap.

Analogously, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has found a large galaxy 10.6 billion light-years away from Earth (at a redshift of 2.2) that is stuffing itself with smaller galaxies caught like flies in a web of gravity. The galaxy is so far away that astronomers are seeing it as it looked in the early formative years of the Universe, only 2 billion years after the Big Bang.

This image is a composite of many separate exposures made by the ACS instrument on the Hubble Space Telescope using several different filters. It shows the Spiderweb Galaxy sitting at the centre of an emergent galaxy cluster, surrounded by hundreds of other galaxies from the cluster. The image provides a dramatic glimpse of a large massive galaxy under assembly as smaller galaxies merge. This has commonly been thought to be the way galaxies grew in the young Universe, but now the Hubble observations of the radio galaxy MRC 1138-262, nicknamed the “Spiderweb Galaxy”, have shown dozens of star-forming satellite galaxies in the actual process of merging.

The Hubble image shows the Spiderweb Galaxy sitting at the centre of an emergent galaxy cluster, surrounded by hundreds of other galaxies from the cluster.

Team leader George Miley from Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands explains: “The new Hubble image is the best demonstration so far that large massive galaxies are built up by merging smaller ones.” The image reaches much deeper than previous ones and shows the merging process in unprecedented detail. Galaxies can be seen as they are sucked into the Spiderweb at speeds of several hundred kilometres per second, from distances of more than a hundred thousand light-years around it.

Radio telescopes have shown that jets of fast particles are being spewed out from the centre of the Spiderweb Galaxy with enormous energies. These jets are believed to be produced by a massive black hole buried deep in the nucleus of the system. The infalling galaxy "flies" are a source of food for this black hole "spider", allowing it to continue disgorging the jets.

The new Hubble image provides a unique real-world example for testing theoretical models of massive galaxy formation. The complexity and clumpiness of the Spiderweb agrees qualitatively with the predictions of such models, but a surprising feature of the Spiderweb Galaxy is the presence of several faint small linear galaxies within the merging structure.

The Spiderweb Galaxy is located in the southern constellation of Hydra (the water snake) and is one of the most massive galaxies known.

This result was published 10th October 2006 in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Lars Christensen | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

nachricht Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

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: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>