Spitzer and Hubble telescopes find rare galaxy at dawn of time

Dec 21, 2011
This image shows one of the most distant galaxies known, called GN-108036, dating back to 750 million years after the Big Bang that created our universe. The galaxy's light took 12.9 billion years to reach us. The main Hubble image shows a field of galaxies, known as the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey, or GOODS. A close-up of the Hubble image, and a Spitzer image, are called out at right. In the Spitzer image, infrared light captured by its Infrared Array Camera at wavelengths of 3.6 and 4.5 microns is colored green and red, respectively. In the Hubble image, visible light taken by its Advanced Camera for Surveys instrument at 0.6 and 0.9 microns is blue and green, respectively, while infrared light captured by Hubble's new Wide Field Camera 3 at 1.6 microns is red. GN-108036 is only detected in the infrared, and is completely invisible in the optical Hubble images, explaining its very red color in this picture. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI/University of Tokyo

(PhysOrg.com) -- Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes have discovered that one of the most distant galaxies known is churning out stars at a shockingly high rate. The blob-shaped galaxy, called GN-108036, is the brightest galaxy found to date at such great distances.

The galaxy, which was discovered and confirmed using ground-based telescopes, is 12.9 billion light-years away. Data from Spitzer and Hubble were used to measure the galaxy's high star production rate, equivalent to about 100 suns per year. For reference, our is about five times larger and 100 times more massive than GN-108036, but makes roughly 30 times fewer stars per year.

"The discovery is surprising because previous surveys had not found galaxies this bright so early in the history of the universe," said Mark Dickinson of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Ariz. "Perhaps those surveys were just too small to find galaxies like GN-108036. It may be a special, rare object that we just happened to catch during an extreme burst of star formation."

The international team of astronomers, led by Masami Ouchi of the University of Tokyo, Japan, first identified the remote galaxy after scanning a large patch of sky with the atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Its great distance was then carefully confirmed with the W.M. , also on Mauna Kea.

"We checked our results on three different occasions over two years, and each time confirmed the previous measurement," said Yoshiaki Ono of the University of Tokyo, lead author of a new paper reporting the findings in the .

GN-108036, the most vigorous, star-forming galaxy ever discovered during the cosmic dawn, appears as a faint red object in the false-color images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope (0.78 um for blue, 0.85 um for green, 1.4 um for red). Spectroscopy revealed that the galaxy is about 12.9 billion light years away from Earth, a distance that establishes it as one of the farthest galaxies ever confirmed. Cosmic expansion explains the red color of the galaxy's light, which was actually emitted in ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths. The intense brightness of the intrinsic UV light suggests that the galaxy contained a large number of young, massive stars. The shape of the galaxy appears elongated; its average diameter is about 5,000 light years, comparable to the thick horizontal bar (lower right corner in the top-right panel) that shows a size of 5,000 light years.

GN-108036 lies near the very beginning of time itself, a mere 750 million years after our universe was created 13.7 billion years ago in an explosive "Big Bang." Its light has taken 12.9 billion years to reach us, so we are seeing it as it existed in the very distant past.

Astronomers refer to the object's distance by a number called its "redshift," which relates to how much its light has stretched to longer, redder wavelengths due to the expansion of the universe. Objects with larger redshifts are farther away and are seen further back in time. GN-108036 has a redshift of 7.2. Only a handful of galaxies have confirmed redshifts greater than 7, and only two of these have been reported to be more distant than GN-108036.

Infrared observations from Spitzer and Hubble were crucial for measuring the galaxy's star-formation activity. Astronomers were surprised to see such a large burst of star formation because the galaxy is so small and from such an early cosmic era. Back when galaxies were first forming, in the first few hundreds of millions of years after the Big Bang, they were much smaller than they are today, having yet to bulk up in mass.

One-dimensional spectrum of GN-108036 obtained with the spectrograph DEIMOS on the Keck Telescope. The red arrow points to the detected, asymmetric Lyman-alpha line, which strongly supports that the galaxy was in the ancient Universe. The grey shaded area covers the wavelength range heavily contaminated by night-sky OH emission lines.

During this epoch, as the universe expanded and cooled after its explosive start, hydrogen atoms permeating the cosmos formed a thick fog that was opaque to ultraviolet light. This period, before the first stars and galaxies had formed and illuminated the universe, is referred to as the "dark ages." The era came to an end when light from the earliest galaxies burned through, or "ionized," the opaque gas, causing it to become transparent. Galaxies similar to GN-108036 may have played an important role in this event.

"The high rate of star formation found for GN-108036 implies that it was rapidly building up its mass some 750 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was only about five percent of its present age," said Bahram Mobasher, a team member from the University of California, Riverside. "This was therefore a likely ancestor of massive and evolved seen today."

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Pressure2
1.5 / 5 (8) Dec 21, 2011
Can anyone explain to me what evidence they have that this galaxy is in fact creating stars at a more rapid rate than our galaxy?
rawa1
1.6 / 5 (21) Dec 21, 2011
..what evidence they have that this galaxy is in fact creating stars at a more rapid rate than our galaxy..
These cosmologists are just considering it for not to lost their jobs prematurely...;-) It's apparent this ancient galaxy is pretty separated from others with wast distance and no source of dense interstellar gas is visible around it - which means it can be quite similar to Milky Way and there is no reason to consider, it developed faster, than the other galaxies in proximity. Actually this remote area of Universe is nothing exceptional with exception of huge red shift of objects observed.
Vendicar_Decarian
4.4 / 5 (19) Dec 21, 2011
From the red shift in the hydrogen spectra you get it's recessional velocity.

From it's recessional velocity you get it's distance.

From it's surface brightness and it's distance you get it's intrinsic brightness.

From it's intrinsic brightness you get the number of stars in the galaxy.

From the number of stars in the galaxy constrained by it's age, you get the rate of star formation.

Callippo
1 / 5 (10) Dec 21, 2011
What bothers me a bit with the above photo is my feeling, that the red spot is overlapping the yellow-green spot, which would imply, the more distant galaxy is actually this closer one.
dtyarbrough
1.6 / 5 (20) Dec 21, 2011
Distance from us can not be coorelated to age. If inflation actually occured, we could have gotten 13 billion light years apart in a matter of seconds. The beam of photons between us stretched as the distance expanded and we may be seeing photons that left it when we were closer together and inflation over a period of seconds caused the red shift, not expansion over 13 billion years. Just something to think about.
Deesky
4.4 / 5 (9) Dec 21, 2011
Distance from us can not be coorelated to age.

Tell that to Edwin Hubble and the rest of the scientific community.
RealScience
5 / 5 (10) Dec 21, 2011
dtyarbrough - inflation is thought to have occurred in the first fraction of a second after the big bang. The galaxy and its stars formed millions of years afterward, so inflation in the first second couldn't have stretched light from them.
eachus
5 / 5 (6) Dec 21, 2011
What bothers me a bit with the above photo is my feeling, that the red spot is overlapping the yellow-green spot, which would imply, the more distant galaxy is actually this closer one.


Which is why they needed the Hubble (highest possible resolution today) view with the new Wide Field Camera 3 at 1.6 microns. It could be registered with the visible light photos, and you can see that the red galaxy is separate from any other objects in frame.
Callippo
1.1 / 5 (13) Dec 21, 2011
and inflation over a period of seconds caused the red shift
During inflation the Universe was supposed to expand in the range of 40 orders of magnitude. Such inflation no galaxy could survive and we would see pretty deep red shift by now.
Pressure2
1 / 5 (5) Dec 21, 2011
What I don't understand is what caused the inflationary period to suddenly stop or slow down? After all the universe appears flat as far back into time as we can look. And can we really know what happened before the inflationary period or is that all guess work?
pianoman
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 21, 2011
Would like to know the speed that the red galaxy is moving away from earth, in miles per second. Thank you very much.
Deesky
5 / 5 (4) Dec 21, 2011
What I don't understand is what caused the inflationary period to suddenly stop or slow down?

No one knows. There are various hypotheses, but nothing with any solid evidence behind it as yet.

And can we really know what happened before the inflationary period or is that all guess work?

Pretty much (educated) guesswork.
brodix
2.8 / 5 (10) Dec 21, 2011
Actually Inflation is a hypothesis to explain why the universe is flat and background radiation is uniform. Which Big Bang theory was not able to explain. Big Bang theory is a hypothesis to explain why distant galaxies are redshifted proportional to distance and why there is background radiation.
Then there is the Dark Energy hypothesis to explain why the redshift doesn't match what Big Bang theory predicted...
Other than that, it's all solved.
Surprising how energetic that galaxy got in only 750 million years. Why it takes our own galaxy 225 million years to make just one revolution.
Pay no attention to the guy behind the curtain. The Great Oz knows all.
Deesky
4.6 / 5 (10) Dec 21, 2011
Actually Inflation is a hypothesis to explain why the universe is flat and background radiation is uniform

True enough.

BB theory is a hypothesis to explain why distant galaxies are redshifted proportional to distance and why there is background radiation

It's much more than a hypothesis. There are numerous different sources of observational evidence that support the theory. What's more the BB theory has predictive power that explains element abundances and nucleosynthesis.

Then there is the Dark Energy hypothesis to explain why the redshift doesnt match what Big Bang theory predicted

False. DE isn't a hypothesis, it is an observed phenomenon. What's hypothetical is it's mechanism of action.

Other than that, it's all solved

Not even close. There are many, many more unsolved questions in cosmology

Surprising how energetic that galaxy got in only 750m yrs

Yes

Why it takes our own galaxy 225 million years to make just one rev

Why surprising?
dtyarbrough
3 / 5 (10) Dec 22, 2011
Real Science:
I stand corrected. Thanks you.
kevinrtrs
1.2 / 5 (20) Dec 22, 2011
From it's recessional velocity you get it's distance.
From it's surface brightness and it's distance you get it's intrinsic brightness.
From it's intrinsic brightness you get the number of stars in the galaxy.
From the number of stars in the galaxy constrained by it's age, you get the rate of star formation

Some interesting circular assumptions in this particular explanation - age related to distance related to recessional velocity?

Given the estimated number of stars in the universe along with the assumed age of it, if you do the maths the rate of star birth should be stupendously high. Or else it should have been incredibly higher in the past to the extend that right now we should be seeing a lot more than about 3 new stars every year in our own galaxy. Of course I can hear the argument already - "It's running out of gas". ;-)
MarkyMark
5 / 5 (6) Dec 22, 2011
@ Kev well its certainly better than your theory that the universe is 6000 years old Lol.
Pressure2
1 / 5 (9) Dec 22, 2011
What I don't understand is what caused the inflationary period to suddenly stop or slow down?

No one knows. There are various hypotheses, but nothing with any solid evidence behind it as yet.

And can we really know what happened before the inflationary period or is that all guess work?

Pretty much (educated) guesswork.

It appears that we don't have any direct evidence as to what went on before the inflationary period. So we really do not have any direct evidence of a Big Bang do we? And if we don't have direct evidence of a BB we also have no direct evidence of an inflationary period do we?
rawa1
1 / 5 (11) Dec 22, 2011
if we don't have direct evidence of a BB we also have no direct evidence of an inflationary period do we
The dark energy, inflation and Big Bang singularity were all introduced just to explain observations - so we indeed do have the evidence for all these things. The question is, if these explanations are correct from more general perspective. As the level of technology improves, we observe more and more distant areas of Universe, which allows us to apply extrinsic perspective to existing intrinsic observations. This is how the flat Earth model has been replaced with spherical one, geocentric solar system with heliocentric one, the Milky Way Universe with Universe of many galaxies, the Big Bang Universe with Steady State multiverse. This evolution always replaces the antropocentric model with Copernician principle and it's probable, it will continue in future too.
rawa1
1 / 5 (11) Dec 22, 2011
In this connection, please note the interesting thing - at the very beginning the people always considered the more general model first. The old Greece believed in spherical Earth, the old Arabian in heliocentric model, the even older swastika symbol for Milky Way means "the wheel of Suns" in Sancrit and it represents its rectangular shape with infinity symbol at its center.

http://arxiv.org/abs/1010.1790
http://thesantosr...-center/

And the ancient vedian prana archetype points to infinite eternal Universe. It seems, the old people always believed in extrinsic model first (as it requires less postulates), but the formally thinking science has replaced it with intrinsic model and just after time it returned back into extrinsic one. IMO this evolution of Universe understanding is lawful and predictable and it follows from dense aether theory, it's dispersive mechanism of information spreading in particular.
rawa1
1 / 5 (11) Dec 22, 2011
This dispersive model corresponds the character of wave spreading along water surface. At the shortest distance the surface waves are dispersing into indeterministic Brownian noise in longitudinal waves, at the larger distances the deterministic transverse waves become dominant, which correspond the formal strictly deterministic approach of formal rigour based science. But at the most distant areas this deterministic model changes into indeterministic again and the transverse ripples are dispersing back into longitudinal waves in the way, which doesn't differ from the short distance conceptually, with exception of its distance and energy density scale.

In this context it's not so surprising, the ancient most primitive people understood the universe in similar way, like these most advanced ones today.
Benni
1.4 / 5 (10) Dec 22, 2011
As is a somewhat faithful custom of mine, I watched a recently produced "Universe" video on H2 last night to relax from a long field trip. It discussed the uniform distribution of galaxies throughout the Universe, "galaxy density" if you please, it's the same in any direction. They pointed out such a distribution could not be caused by a "big explosive bang" or we'd see the opposite distribution.

Galaxies at about the 13 Gyr observational limit are starting to appear no different in size as Milky Way, and bigger), but the density of galaxies of all types at that limit is no different than our local group (if you want to consider there is such a thing).



joefarah
1 / 5 (8) Dec 22, 2011
Big bang happens and energy distributed in all directions, eventually forming matter. Light from the big bang (or as soon after as light was created) would have traveled much faster, and hence farther than any matter and so would be well past us by now. In fact light from matter going in the direction opposite to us would have reached us. How do we know that this galaxy is not from the other side of the big bang? Related, how far are we from the big bang, and hence how do we estimate size of universe.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (7) Dec 22, 2011
"Some interesting circular assumptions in this particular explanation - age related to distance related to recessional velocity?" - KevinTardis

Age is linearly related to distance by the measured constant speed of light.

Distance is linearly related to recessional velocity by Hubble's constant - as determined by the brightness of type 1A supernova.

Recessional velocity is determined by the frequency shift in the spectral lines of the emitting body - primarily a star or stars that are principally composed of hydrogen.

The circular reasoning exists only in your mind Tard Boy.
wiyosaya
5 / 5 (4) Dec 22, 2011
Personally, I can't wait for similar discoveries from the E-ELT www.eso.org/publi...elt.html when it comes on line.
Pressure2
1 / 5 (6) Dec 22, 2011
Kevin's 6000 year old created universe and the 13.7 billion year old BB universe have a lot in common. Both are based on assumptions and more than likely have the age of the universe off by an infinity.

You see there is no direct evidence of an inflationary period, hence a previous BB. Now one can say there is direct evidence of a BB because of the observed red-shift, but since the universe is flat we could only conclude it happened right here, where we stand.
dtyarbrough
1 / 5 (9) Dec 22, 2011
An homogenous universe can not be created by inertial motion(expansion like the spokes of a wheel if you picture it in two dimensions). Only expansion due to pressure can create such a universe and that requires the ether. As an homogenous universe expands, when its diameter doubles, it volume becomes 8 times greater. Things twice as far away are not traveling twice as fast, but 8 times as fast to fill in the gaps.
brodix
1 / 5 (7) Dec 22, 2011
DE isn't a hypothesis, it is an observed phenomenon. What's hypothetical is it's mechanism of action.

If the mechanism of redshift is a lensing effect, which given that it is uniformly proportional to distance in all directions, is not an unreasonable possibility, then it being due to some form of energy is a hypothesis.
Why surprising?

The post inflation stage would be a spatially large area, with a uniform distribution of energy presumably not that much more dense than current distribution, given that inflation was presumably a much greater proportion of the expansion than what would have happened since. So how did all that energy manage to coalesce and ignite in 750 million years, when it takes our galaxy 225 mil to make one turn? It would be like saying the time from the invention of the wheel to the introduction of the Model T was about as long as it takes to drive around NYC three times.
AAhhzz
1.5 / 5 (6) Dec 22, 2011
The headline seems a bit misleading

This "galaxy" is 5,000 light years in diameter?...Seems a bit small to be labeled a galazy. Perhaps the term globular cluster would be a bit more accurate?

Imagine one of the first stars...one of those HUGE stars that burned through its hydrogen in just a couple of million years before going supernova.

Imagine that SN blast wave impacting into the clouds of hydrogen in the surrounding space, compressing and creating vortexes. Imagine thousands of stars being birthed in this manner...oh say in an area a few thousand light years in diameter. Recall that that first star would have put off huge amounts of UV clearing the hydrogen haze by ionizing the hydrogen, allowing the light from this second generation to shine across the universe.

Just a thought
Vendicar_Decarian
1.5 / 5 (6) Dec 22, 2011
"An homogenous universe can not be created by inertial motion" - Dlvar

If matter spontaneously arises from the void, it most certainly can.

Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (6) Dec 22, 2011
Resolution....

Need...

Moooore....

Reeeeesolutioooon........
Nanobanano
1.4 / 5 (11) Dec 24, 2011
Think about the consequences of the discovery that Neutrinos can move faster than Einstein's magic number "c".

If these findings are verified, ALL of modern cosmology will come crumbling down as the alleged "ages" of objects in the universe will be shown to be built upon man's fallacy.
Hev
2 / 5 (4) Dec 24, 2011
the more we can see of the universe the more we see of much the same as it is locally - we should not be trying to fit new observations into existing theories - we should be revising our theories
Seeker2
1 / 5 (6) Dec 28, 2011
This is how the flat Earth model has been replaced with spherical one, geocentric solar system with heliocentric one, the Milky Way Universe with Universe of many galaxies, the Big Bang Universe with Steady State multiverse.
I think the big bang is a big joke, but not quite as funny as the steady state. Maybe more like a big blowout.
Callippo
1 / 5 (6) Dec 29, 2011
AWT considers random Universe model, i.e. neither Steady State model, neither Big Bang, but the mixture of both. It simply requires the least amount of postulates.
Seeker2
2.1 / 5 (7) Dec 29, 2011
AWT considers random Universe model, i.e. neither Steady State model, neither Big Bang, but the mixture of both. It simply requires the least amount of postulates.
Sounds like mixing more postulates to me.