Team leader Professor Richard Ellis, Steele Professor of Astronomy at Caltech, will present images of these faint and distant objects in his talk on Wednesday 11 July at the ‘From IRAS to Herschel and Planck’ conference at the Geological Society in London. The meeting is being held to celebrate the 65th birthday of Royal Astronomical Society President Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson.
When light from very distant bodies passes through the gravitational field of much nearer massive objects, it bends in an effect known as ‘gravitational lensing’. In a pioneering technique, the Caltech-led group used massive clusters of galaxies – the best example of natural gravitational lenses - in a series of campaigns to locate progressively more distant systems that would not be detected in normal surveys. The team found the galaxies using one of the most powerful telescopes in the world, the Keck II, which has a 10 m diameter mirror and is sited on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
Richard Ellis explains, "Gravitational lensing is the magnification of distant sources by foreground structures. By looking through carefully-selected clusters, we have located 6 star forming galaxies seen at unprecedented distances, corresponding to a time when the Universe was only 500 million years old, or less than 4% of its present age."
When the Universe was 300,000 years old it is thought to have entered a period when no stars were shining. Cosmologists refer to this phase of cosmic history as the `Dark Ages'. Pinpointing the moment of `cosmic dawn' when the first stars and galaxies began to shine and the dark ages ended is a major observational quest and provides the motivation for building future powerful telescopes such as the European Southern Observatory’s Extremely Large Telescope, the US/Canadian Thirty Meter Telescope and the space-borne James Webb Telescope.
The new survey represents 3 years' painstaking observations summarised in the thesis of graduate student, Mr Dan Stark. "Using Keck II, we have detected 6 faint star-forming galaxies whose signal has been boosted about 20 times by the magnifying effect of a foreground cluster. That we should find so many distant galaxies in our small survey area suggests they are very numerous indeed. We estimate the combined radiation output of this population could be sufficient to break apart (ionize) the hydrogen atoms in space at that time, thereby ending the Dark Ages" said Mr Stark.
Proving definitively that each of the 6 objects is unambiguously at these enormous distances (and hence being viewed at such early times) is hard, even with the most powerful facilities. "As with all work at the frontiers, skeptics may wish to see further proof that the objects we are detecting with Keck are really so distant", confessed Ellis. However, in addition to numerous checks the team has made following their initial discovery a year ago, Ellis and Stark point to supporting evidence from galaxies containing old stars that are seen when the Universe was just a bit older.
"We can infer the Universe had a lot of star formation at these early times from Spitzer Space Telescope measurements of larger galaxies seen when the Universe was about 300-500 million years older", explains Mr Stark. "These galaxies show the tell-tale sign of old stars (and were described in earlier work by University of Exeter scientist Dr Andrew Bunker). To produce these old stars requires significant earlier activity, most likely in the fainter star-forming galaxies we have now seen."
Also associated with the programme is Caltech postdoctoral scholar, Dr Johan Richard, who is leading a similar, but independent, survey of magnified galaxies detected with the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes. Although that work is not yet complete, preliminary findings support the conclusions of the Keck II survey. European collaborators include Professor Jean-Paul Kneib of the Laboratory of Astrophysics at Marseilles, and Dr Graham Smith at the University of Birmingham.
Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences
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...
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...
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...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences