Astronomers discover a pair of rare massive, hyper-luminous galaxies

Nov 15, 2017 16:50 IST
Astronomers spot a pair of rare massive, hyper-luminous galaxies

Astronomers have for the first time spotted two hyper-luminous starburst galaxies, extremely bright and spectacularly massive galaxies, in the early universe.

According to Dominik Riechers, an astronomer at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, "finding just one hyper-luminous starburst galaxy is remarkable in itself. Finding two of these rare galaxies in such close proximity is truly astounding.”

Astronomers captured the two interacting galaxies, collectively known as ADFS-27, as they began the gradual process of merging into a single, massive elliptical galaxy.
The study was published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Key Highlights

• The ADFS-27 system is reported to have approximately 50 times the amount of star-forming gas as the Milky Way. Much of the gas will be converted into new stars very quickly.

• The current observation of the astronomers reveals that the two galaxies are producing stars at a very high pace, about one thousand times faster than Milky Way.

• The galaxy pair is located approximately 12.7 billion light-years from Earth in the direction of the Dorado constellation.

• At this distance, astronomers viewed this system as it appeared when the universe was only about one billion years old.

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How was ADFS-27 discovered?

• The researchers first detected this system with the help of the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory.

• It appeared as a single red dot in the telescope's survey of the southern sky.

• The initial observations suggested that the apparently faint object was in fact both extremely bright and extremely distant.

• Follow-up observations with the Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX) telescope confirmed these initial interpretations and paved the way for more detailed observations.

• The Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX) telescope in Chile has a higher resolution and greater sensitivity and due to this it was able to measure the distance to the object and reveal that it was in fact two distinct galaxies.

According to researchers, this merger may eventually form the core of an entire galaxy cluster. Galaxy clusters are among the most massive structures in the universe.

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