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 First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles
13.07.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Simpler interferometer can fine tune even the quickest pulses of light
12.07.2018 | University of Rochester

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: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Research finds new molecular structures in boron-based nanoclusters

13.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Algae Have Land Genes

13.07.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>