Giant galaxies akin to snowflakes in space

Feb 21, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Giant galaxies that contain billions of stars are born in much the same way as delicate snowflakes, new research from Swinburne University of Technology has shown.

In a paper accepted for publication in the , Professor Duncan Forbes has provided the first direct evidence to support a theory of that he has likened to the birth of a snowflake.

Forbes, with the help of international collaborators, analysed data from three different telescopes in order to help confirm this galaxy formation theory proposed last year by German astronomer Ludwig Oser and his colleagues.

“What we’ve found is that galaxies form in two phases. Firstly, an inner region of stars is formed from collapsing gas. This region then acts as a core, or `seed’, around which the galaxy grows as the result of stars which are acquired from other smaller galaxies,” he said.

According to Professor Jean Brodie from the University of California, “our work provides some of the best evidence for this inside-out build up of giant galaxies.’’

What intrigued the astronomers was the similarity between this inside-out process for giant galaxy formation and the way that snowflakes are formed.

“Snowflake formation requires a `seed’ to get it started. In the case of , that `seed’ is a microscopic dust grain. Having a core from which to build upon is comparable to the formation of a giant galaxy,” Forbes said.

“Then, in much the same way as water vapour accumulates to grow the snowflake, small galaxies and their stars are accreted onto the galaxy core.”

The astronomers based their conclusions on observations of the massive elliptical galaxy NGC1407, one of the largest galaxies in the southern skies with over 10 billion stars.

They made their observations using two giant telescopes in Hawaii – the 8.2 metre Subaru and the 10 metre Keck, the largest optical telescope in the world. They also included data collected from the Hubble Space Telescope.

“Our data came from three of the world’s premier telescopes, and in each case it supported the ‘snowflake theory’ of galaxy formation,” Forbes said. “This means we can be very confident in our findings.”

Explore further: A star's early chemistry shapes life-friendly atmospheres

Provided by Swinburne University of Technology

4.4 /5 (8 votes)

Related Stories

Alien invaders pack the Milky Way

Feb 23, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Around a quarter of the globular star clusters in our Milky Way are invaders from other galaxies, new research from Swinburne University of Technology (Australia) shows.

Spiral galaxies may be dying because of bars

Nov 10, 2010

With the help of the army of volunteers working on the Galaxy Zoo 2 'citizen science' project an international team of scientists led by a Portsmouth astrophysicist may have discovered what is killing spiral ...

Penn astronomer opens new window on the universe's past

Dec 14, 2010

A new instrument designed, built and operated by University of Pennsylvania astronomer James Aguirre, with collaborators at the California Institute of Technology, Jet Propulsion Laboratory and University ...

Astronomers put forward new theory of galaxy formation

Feb 02, 2005

How and when did galaxies form? How and when did stars form in these island-like universes? These questions are still posing a considerable challenge to present-day astronomers. An international team of astronomers, ...

Recommended for you

A star's early chemistry shapes life-friendly atmospheres

19 hours ago

Born in a disc of gas and rubble, planets eventually come together as larger and larger pieces of dust and rock stick together. They may be hundreds of light-years away from us, but astronomers can nevertheless ...

Image: X-raying the cosmos

Apr 22, 2014

When we gaze up at the night sky, we are only seeing part of the story. Unfortunately, some of the most powerful and energetic events in the Universe are invisible to our eyes – and to even the best optical ...

Mysteries of nearby planetary system's dynamics solved

Apr 22, 2014

Mysteries of one of the most fascinating nearby planetary systems now have been solved, report authors of a scientific paper to be published by the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society in its ...

User comments : 6

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Tuxford
1.4 / 5 (10) Feb 21, 2011
Great. Astronomers are making progress. Formation of galaxies grows from the core, from the inside-out, not from the outside-in. Still, they haven't yet got to the point where they dare consider that much of the new matter that forms the galaxy actually nucleates from within the core star; from ejections due to periodic instabilities in the non-black, black-hole. Snowflakes? Are they weathermen? But it is progress!
omatumr
1 / 5 (8) Feb 21, 2011
Tuxford is right.

Galaxies grow from the core, from the inside-out, not from the outside-in.

Neutron repulsion is the mechanism that causes massive neutron stars to explode:

A. Scientific Genesis: 3. Neutron Repulsion

youtube.com/watch?v=sXNyLYSiPO0

B. "Neutron Repulsion" [The APEIRON Journal, 19 pages, in press, 2011]

arxiv.org/pdf/1102.1499v1

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
gwrede
5 / 5 (1) Feb 22, 2011
What other ways of growing could there be?

If the galaxy is not growing by incorporating smaller galaxies and globular and other star clusters around it, then there would have to exist a mechanism that prevents them from being born, so that the galaxy can grow by accumulating pristine hydrogen from around itself.

Sice galaxy formation takes a long time, it would be peculiar to assume that other galaxy formation would not exist in the immediate vicinity.

Thus, I cannot imagine any other way for galaxies to grow.
MrPressure
1 / 5 (4) Feb 22, 2011
galaxys centre are huge, density and very massive energyconcentration who exploding / expanding all a time and emit energywaves who have a nature of new atoms and that the way, also new stars etc.

Also quarks and particle like photons expanding all a time.

Space is nothing and thats why space dont expanding or bending at all!

.
Tuxford
1.6 / 5 (7) Mar 03, 2011
Consider that new matter is formed now, and not just at the imagined Big Bang event. With decades of announced physics concluding otherwise, this idea is threatening somehow. Ask yourself why? Has physics always been right?

With so many new astronomical observations indicating otherwise, why not rethink? Maybe the experts missed something fundamental along the way? Like that in the dense cores of 'finite' density 'Black' holes, an unknown physics process is nucleating 'new' matter out of 'nothing'. At least it is from 'nothing' as defined as our known universe. And thus, that under these conditions, the First Law of Thermodynamics is not valid. Perhaps our universe is an open-system afterall.
omatumr
1 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2011
Has physics always been right?

With so many new astronomical observations indicating otherwise, why not rethink?


I agree, Tuxford. The problem developed because unexpected observations were ignored.

These videos show some of the unexpected experimental observations:

1. Birth of the Solar System

youtube.com/watch?v=AQZe_Qk-q7M

2. Composition of the Sun

youtube.com/watch?v=yLjQSSHIe6k

3. Sun's source of energy

youtube.com/watch?v=sXNyLYSiPO0

More news stories

How many moons does Venus have?

There are dozens upon dozens of moons in the Solar System, ranging from airless worlds like Earth's Moon to those with an atmosphere (most notably, Saturn's Titan). Jupiter and Saturn have many moons each, ...

First-of-its-kind NASA space-weather project

A NASA scientist is launching a one-to-two-year pilot project this summer that takes advantage of U.S. high-voltage power transmission lines to measure a phenomenon that has caused widespread power outages ...