Astronomers accidentally discovered traces of a monstrous galaxy in the early universe that had never been seen before. Like the cosmic Yeti, the scientific community generally regards these galaxies as folklore, given the lack of evidence for their existence, but astronomers in the United States and Australia were able to take a picture of the beast for the first time.
Published in The Astrophysical Journal the discovery provides a new idea of the first rising steps of some of the largest galaxies in the universe.
Arizona State University astronomer Christina Williams, the study's lead author, spotted a pale light spot on new sensitive observations using a large millimeter Atacama or ALMA array, a collection of 66 radio telescopes high in the Chilean mountains. Strangely enough, glittering seems to come out of nowhere, like a ghostly foot in a vast dark desert.
"It was very mysterious because the light did not seem to be related to any known galaxy," said Williams, a PhD student at the National Science Foundation at the Steward Observatory. "When I saw that this galaxy was invisible at any other wavelength, I was really excited because it meant that it was probably really far away and hidden from clouds of dust."
Researchers estimate that the signal is coming so far that it took 1
Study co-author Ivo Labe, of Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia, said: "We realized that the galaxy is actually a massive monster galaxy with as many stars as our Milky Way, but overflowing with activity, forming new stars times faster than our own galaxy. "
Discovery can solve a longstanding question in astronomy, the authors said. Recent studies have found that some of the largest galaxies in the young universe have grown and reached age extremely rapidly, a result that is not understood theoretically. Massive mature galaxies are observed when the universe was just a cosmic toddler at 10% of its present age, and even more puzzling is that these mature galaxies appear to emerge from nowhere: astronomers never seem to catch them as they form.
Smaller galaxies were observed in the early universe, but such beings did not evolve fast enough to solve the puzzle, Earlier other galaxy monsters have also been reported, but these observations are too rare for a satisfactory explanation.
"Our hidden monster galaxy has exactly the right ingredients to have this missing link," Williams explains, "because they are probably much more common. "
An open question is exactly how many of them there are. The observations of this study were made in a small part of the sky, less than 1 / 100th of the full moon disk. Like the Yeti, the imprints of the mythical creature a small streak would either be a sign of incredible luck, or a sign that the monsters are literally lurking everywhere.
Williams said that researchers were eagerly anticipating the planned launch of the NASA Space Telescope's James Webb in March 2021 to investigate more
"JWST will be able to look through the dusty veil to we can learn how big these galaxies are and how fast they are growing to better understand why models fail by explaining them. "
But for now, the monsters are there, wrapped in dust and much mystery.
Image: Hubble flashes a faint galaxy
Christina V. Williams et al., Detection of a dark, massive, ALMA galaxy only at z ∼ 5–6 in a tiny 3 mm study, The Astrophysical Journal (2019). Doi: 10.3847 / 1538-4357 / ab44aa
The University of Arizona
Cosmic Yeti from Dawn of the Universe Discovers It Lurks to Dust (2019, October 22)
retrieved 22 October 2019
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