In a new study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, observations made by Chile’s Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA) on SPT-S J041839-4751.9 or SPT0418-47 for short show that the children’s galaxy has characteristics similar to those on our more mature Milky Way. The light from the galaxy took 12 billion years to reach us. This means that astronomers look back in time to a galaxy that formed less than 1.5 billion years after the birth of the universe.
Previous modeling and observations have led astronomers to theorize that the period after the birth of the universe is turbulent. Early galaxies probably crashed into each other and merged to form large, irregular masses of stars. They should not be installed on clean, flat discs. But SPT0418-47 does, and it’s quite a surprise that dispels some of our beliefs about early space activities in the universe.
“This result represents a breakthrough in galaxy formation, showing that the structures we observe in nearby spiral galaxies and in our Milky Way were already located 12 billion years ago,” said Francesca Rizzo, MD. a student at the German Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics and the first author of the study, the statement said.
Because SPT0418-47 is so far away, it is difficult to find in the sky because its light is so dim. To detect and characterize SPT0418-47, the research team took advantage of a phenomenon known as “gravitational lensing.” Light from distant galaxies does not travel in a straight line to Earth – it is influenced by the effects of gravity on its path here. Nearby galaxies distort and convert light from more distant galaxies as they travel to our telescopes.
But objectification can help with detection. Using the ALMA technique and telescope, the researchers were able to increase the light from SPT0418-47 and increase the resolution to observe the characteristics of the young galaxy. The lens effect means images obtained from ALMA show SPT0418-47 as an aggressive, fiery eye of the Sauron type, a perfect circle of light containing hundreds of thousands of stars.
Using computer modeling techniques, the research team made the gravitational, circular images of SPT0418-47 and reconstructed what the galaxy would look like if our telescopes were powerful enough to see so far on their own (as the video below) shows. The modeling reshaped the galaxy in a surprising way.
“When I first saw the reconstructed image of SPT0418-47, I couldn’t believe it,” Rizzo said. A treasure chest was being opened.
The reconstruction showed that SPT0418-47 does not have the large spiral arms we are used to seeing in the Milky Way, but has a disk and a giant bulge in its center, reminiscent of our native galaxy. The European Southern Observatory suggests that this is the Milky Way.
“It’s less like and more than a mini-self,” said Sarah Martel, an astrophysicist at the University of New South Wales who was not involved in the study. “That’s only 25% of the mass of the Milky Way and half the size.”
But what he lacks height compensates for in star power. The speed of star formation in the galaxy is equivalent to the mass of 350 of our own suns, which Martel calls “huge.” In comparison, she notes, the rate of star formation on the Milky Way is only 1.6 solar masses per year. Simona Vegeti notes that the rate of star formation is “quite puzzling” because it means the galaxy as a place of high-energy processes. Probably, this would lead to more disorder, but SPT0418-47 remains cool and calm even during all this activity.
The young galaxy will not develop into a Milky Way spiral galaxy like the ones we are familiar with today. Instead, researchers believe it will become an elliptical galaxy like Messier 87,Such a fate will not happen for millions of years. However, when the extremely large telescope of the European Southern Observatory appears on the Internet in 2025, astronomers are likely to find more of these ordered galaxies, allowing them to discover how they could form and evolve in the early universe.