Technology Astronomers Witness Gigantic Galaxy Collision

22:52  14 november  2017
22:52  14 november  2017 Source:   Popular Mechanics

Astronomers discover one of the oldest objects in the universe

  Astronomers discover one of the oldest objects in the universe There’s old, then there’s Big Bang old. Using one of the world’s most powerful telescopes, scientists Monday announced the discovery of a distant galaxy that’s about 12.8 billion years old. It’s “only” about 1 billion years younger than the Big Bang, making it the second-oldest celestial object ever discovered. “This new object is very close to being one of the first galaxies ever to form,” said astrophysicist Min Yun of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who was a co-author of a new study published Monday in Nature Astronomy, a peer-reviewed British journal. At present there is only one other, slightly older and more distant object like this that is known, the study said. "The Big Bang happened 13.7 billion years ago, and now we are seeing this galaxy from 12.8 billion years ago, so it was forming within the first billion years after the Big Bang," Yun said in a statement. "Seeing an object within the first billion years is remarkable because the universe was too hot and too uniform to form anything for the first 400 million years," he said. "So our best guess is that the first stars and galaxies and black holes all formed within the first half a billion to 1 billion years." The galaxy, named G09 83808, was spotted with the powerful Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT), which is located in Mexico and described as a high-precision time machine that can see images of galaxies born billions of years ago.

Galaxy collisions are a common occurrence in the universe. Our own Milky Way is fated to collide and merge with its neighbor, Andromeda, in about 5 billion years. Astronomers have observed several clashes involving one big galaxy and several larger ones, and they have also witnessed more major

The image shows a number of strange features the astronomers think are related to an ongoing collision of galaxy clusters. The region is called Abell 2256, and is about 800 million light-years from Earth and some 4 million light-years across.

The two ancient galaxies are 50 times as massive as our own.: Astronomers Witness Gigantic Galaxy Collision © NRAO/AUI/NSF Astronomers Witness Gigantic Galaxy Collision Galaxy collisions are the largest and most intricate choreography of matter ever performed in the universe. Billions of stars swirl together and fly apart, supermassive black holes collide and combine, and nebulas of gas collapse into thousands of new stars. It's a dance that takes billions of years to complete, and it's happening thousands of times over all across the universe.

Using the ALMA radio telescope in Chile, scientists have spotted what they believe to be the largest galaxy merger ever discovered. The two galaxies, collectively called ADFS-27, are both incredibly bright and massive, what scientists call 'superluminous starburst galaxies.' They are also ancient, situated 12.7 billion light-years away, making them among the oldest galaxies in the universe.

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Astronomers Witness the Largest Galaxy Collision Ever Discovered. The two ancient galaxies are 50 times as massive as our own. NRAO/AUI/NSF. By Avery Thompson. Nov 13, 2017. Galaxy collisions are the largest and most intricate choreography of matter ever performed in the universe.

Astronomers from the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton X-Ray Telescope caught a glimpse into what this future collision might look like on Wednesday. Data from galactic collisions helps scientists understand the process and can tell us how much these distant galaxies might weigh.

"Finding just one hyper-luminous starburst galaxy is remarkable in itself. Finding two of these rare galaxies in such close proximity is truly astounding," said Dominik Riechers, lead author of a new study in the Astrophysical Journal. "Considering their extreme distance from Earth and the frenetic star-forming activity inside each, it's possible we may be witnessing the most intense galaxy merger known to date."

ADFS-27 owe their incredible brightness to an earlier sideswiping collision, which triggered an intense burst of star formation. These two galaxies, each more than a dozen times the size of the Milky Way, are pumping out new stars around a thousand times as fast as our own galaxy.

Astronomers believe that the two galaxies are massive enough that one day they could form the core of a new galaxy cluster. Galaxy clusters are groups of hundreds or thousands of galaxies all revolving around a common center, in this case ADFS-27. Follow-up observations with other telescopes could confirm whether starting a galaxy cluster is in the cards for ADFS-27.

"Eventually, we hope to combine the exquisite ALMA data with future infrared observations with NASA's James Webb Space Telescope," says Riechers. "These two telescopes will form an astronomer's 'dream team' to better understand the nature of this and other such exceptionally rare, extreme systems."

Source: National Radio Astronomy Observatory

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