“The farther we look back into space the farther we see back in time,” explained Rauch.” We were actually trying to measure a faint signal from intergalactic gas caused by the cosmic ultraviolet background radiation. But as often happens in science, we got a surprise and found something we weren't looking for—dozens of faint, discrete objects emitting radiation from neutral hydrogen in the so-called Lyman alpha line, a fundamental signature of protogalaxies.”
The team used the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, for an unprecedented 92 hours, to expose a spectrum of the universe when it was only 2 billion years old. Most astronomers believe that when the universe was young it was filled with a thin, almost uniform gas. A popular theory of galaxy formation predicts that the gas accreted forming smaller protogalaxies, which then collided and merged to become the massive galaxies seen today. The new discovery lends strong support to this theory.
During the 1990s there was mounting evidence in favor of this hierarchical picture of galactic evolution, including measurements of distant quasars by Rauch and collaborators that showed how the properties of cosmic gas clouds—the reservoir of matter for galaxy formation—fit within that scheme.
“Most of those gas clouds are dark and visible only as foreground objects, which cast something of a shadow against a bright background quasar,” Becker said. “Intriguingly, one class of these shadows—known as damped Lyman alpha systems—was suspected to arise when those small, protogalactic building blocks intersect the line-of-sight to the quasar. For many years, these shadows were our only hint that a population of numerous early galaxies existed.”
Until now this possibility could not be tested because these protogalaxies, with their low masses and tiny stellar populations, were too faint for observations. The weak light signal that the team has now detected from these objects implies low star formation rates and a still small amount of chemical enrichment, as expected for young galaxies. The objects are about 20 times more common than all the distant galaxies ever seen from ground-based surveys, a finding consistent with the properties of the puzzling damped Lyman alpha shadows and with the abundance of early low-mass protogalaxies in the hierarchical picture.
UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion
16.11.2018 | University of New Hampshire
NASA keeps watch over space explosions
16.11.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly
The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
15.11.2018 | Earth Sciences
15.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
15.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy