An artistic illustration of the Aztec-1 shows that, of the three dense clouds of stars. Credit: National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
There is a monster. It is far away, buried deep in the past. But scientists can see. And thanks to a new international imaging project, they began to understand, too.
The sample is a galaxy that is in the first billion years after the Big Bang. Astronomers call galaxies if these “monsters” due to their large size and blistering star-formation rates — features that have gone unexplained since they were discovered a decade ago, the researchers behind the project wrote.
What’s more, the best theories available for astrophysicists suggest that this kind of galaxy should not exist. Indeed, those monsters grew much larger and created more stars than the models of the early universe suggest is possible.
Even with this new project, published today (Aug. 29) as a research letter in the journal Nature, astronomers don’t really understand what makes the sample studied here, with the name COSMOS-AzTEC-1, or her brothers and sisters tick. A challenge is that the galaxy is 12.4 billion light-years away from Earth, which means astronomers can only see how it behaved 12.4 billion years ago. And he takes a little piece of heaven that thanks to that distance, so getting a quality image is difficult.
However, thanks to the efforts of a team from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, researchers have a new picture of what the monster in the milky way looks like and how it works, a picture that’s 10 times higher resolution than ever before. [101 Astronomy Images That Will Blow Your Mind]
“A real surprise is that this galaxy is seen almost 13 billion years ago a massive, ordered gas disk… instead of what we had expected, which would be a kind of a disturbed train wreck,” co-author Min Yun, an astronomer at UMass Amherst who have helped with the discovery of the Aztecs-1 back in 2007, said in a statement.
Researchers suspect that only a billion years after the Big Bang, galaxies small and cluttered, Yun said. This newest imaging project turns out, however, that is not the only AzTEC-1 star-forming sample of inexplicable scale, but it is also a galaxy with a distinct, unusual and unstable system.
AzTEC-1, the researchers found, is a disk. But it is not a disk, such as the Milky way, with a single thick core and the spiral arms swirling out. Instead, the monster’s got three cores, or two separate clouds of stars circling many light-years away from the larger cluster in the middle. And unlike most modern galaxies, it is unstable.
The researchers reported that the sheer weight of the galaxy, of the huge cloud of gas, brings so much inner pressure on the monster with the body of the external pressure of the spin can not compensate for. And the resulting gravitational collapse leads to the sample rapid star formation.
What the researchers still can’t explain, however, is the question of how that huge cloud of gas formed in the first place, they wrote in the study, to the letter. In theory, the mass of the galaxy’s gas must have caused the cloud to collapse on itself long before it grew into a monster. But that has not happened.
Originally published on Live Science.