Space galaxies found in ancient 'treasure trove' find by astronomers

11 Août, 2019, 01:07 | Auteur: Therese Cote

"The greater density of stars means there would be many more stars close by appearing larger and brighter", lead researcher Tao Wang, an astronomer at the University of Tokyo, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, said in a statement.

Astronomers uncover 39 ancient galaxies using multiple space and ground-based observatories, according to CNN.

It is the first multiple discovery of this type of galaxy, which defies current models of the universe, the researchers said. The amount of stretching allows astronomers to calculate how far away something is, which also tells you how long ago the light you're seeing was emitted from the thing in question.

The team used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an astronomical interferometer of 66 radio telescopes around the world.

The reason these galaxies were hidden from sight is that, while they were actively making stars, they also contained plenty of dust, which tends to block and obscure much of a galaxy's light. Previous studies have tracked down the existence of some massive galaxies which are not visible in ultraviolet light, but majority have been classified as extreme starburst galaxies, and it is inferred that they are unlikely to represent most of the massive galaxies.

"It was tough to convince our peers these galaxies were as old as we suspected them to be".

Instead, the researchers turned first to data gathered by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, identifying 63 previously unknown objects.

But how can something as big as a galaxy be invisible to begin with? But ALMA has sharp eyes and revealed details at submillimeter wavelengths, the best wavelength to peer through dust present in the early universe. The bigger the galaxy, the bigger the supermassive black hole at its center.

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The study published in the Nature journal sets out that the galaxies are also intimately connected with supermassive black holes and the distribution of dark matter. "Even so, it took further data from the imaginatively named Very Large Telescope in Chile to really prove we were seeing ancient massive galaxies where none had been seen before".

"Residing in the most massive dark matter haloes at their redshifts, they are probably the progenitors of the largest present-day galaxies in massive groups and clusters", the team write.

'Theoretical researchers will need to update their theories now, ' said Prof Kohno.

Looking up at the night sky, our galaxy the Milky Way appears a bit like spilled milk.

'But conversely, the large amount of dust means farther-away stars would be far less visible, so the background to these bright close stars might be a vast dark void'.

"These gargantuan galaxies are invisible in optical wavelengths so it's extremely hard to do spectroscopy, a way to investigate stellar populations and chemical composition of galaxies".

The invention of such massive, star-forming galaxies when the universe was lower than 2 billion years outdated matches nicely with previous observations of huge, quiescent galaxies later in cosmic historical past.


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