ALMA reveals constituent of a galaxy at 12.4 billion light-years away

Jun 22, 2012
Image: ALMA

An international research team, led by Associate Professor Tohru Nagao from Kyoto University, and including researchers from Japan and Europe, has observed a "submillimeter galaxy" located about 12.4 billion light-years away using ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array), and has successfully detected an emission line from nitrogen contained in that galaxy.

Comparisons between the data obtained by ALMA and numerical models revealed that the elemental composition of this galaxy in the early universe, at only 1.3 billion years after the Big Bang, was already close to the of the present universe.

This result suggests that intense star formation activities had occurred in the early universe. A submillimeter galaxy is a type of galaxy which has intense star formation activity and is covered by large amounts of dust which block visible light. This situation hampers detailed observation of the galaxy with optical telescopes, such as the . ALMA observes celestial objects at millimeter wavelength, which penetrates though dust clouds. In addition, ALMA also has extraordinary sensitivity, which is capable of catching even extremely faint radio signals.

This is the result with one of the most distant galaxies ALMA has ever observed.

Explore further: Thermonuclear X-ray bursts on neutron stars set speed record

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

ALMA turns its eyes to Centaurus A

May 31, 2012

(Phys.org) -- A new image of the galaxy Centaurus A, made with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), shows how the observatory allows astronomers to see through the opaque dust lanes that ...

Studying the Past, Pioneering the Future

Jun 13, 2005

Astronomers are meeting this week in Cambridge, Mass., to discuss recent advances generated by a new astronomical facility-the Submillimeter Array (SMA) on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. A joint project of the Smithsonian ...

Worldwide effort bringing ALMA telescope into reality

Feb 15, 2008

In the thin, dry air of northern Chile's Atacama Desert, at an altitude of 16,500 feet, an amazing new telescope system is taking shape, on schedule to provide the world's astronomers with unprecedented views of the origins ...

Intense Star Formation in the Early Universe

Apr 02, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Distant galaxies are not only far away in space. Because it takes time for their light to reach us, they are also very far away in time -- snapshots from the distant past.

Recommended for you

How can we find tiny particles in exoplanet atmospheres?

Aug 29, 2014

It may seem like magic, but astronomers have worked out a scheme that will allow them to detect and measure particles ten times smaller than the width of a human hair, even at many light-years distance.  ...

Spitzer telescope witnesses asteroid smashup

Aug 28, 2014

(Phys.org) —NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted an eruption of dust around a young star, possibly the result of a smashup between large asteroids. This type of collision can eventually lead to the ...

Witnessing the early growth of a giant

Aug 27, 2014

Astronomers have uncovered for the first time the earliest stages of a massive galaxy forming in the young Universe. The discovery was made possible through combining observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

theon
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 22, 2012
Also this observation supports the top-down theory of structure formation.
Husky
not rated yet Jun 22, 2012
Hopefully they get to see fingerprints of much theorised population III stars
kevinrtrs
1.2 / 5 (9) Jun 23, 2012
This result suggests that intense star formation activities had occurred in the early universe

There is the obvious alternative explanation which fits far better than an unobserved accelerated star formation phenomenom:

The observed galaxy was born at the same time as the rest of the known universe.

How else would the elemental composition be the same, unless a very substantial supportive observation can confirm that stars can have an accelerated rate of formation?
What is there that would create such a difference between that galaxy and the Milky Way for instance? If anything, given the nebular theory of star formation, one would expect a far lower rate of star formation so early in the universe. Of course that relies on whether the nebular theory is an accurate explanation of how stars form in the first place.
Tuxford
1 / 5 (5) Jun 26, 2012
Just another knock against the Big Bang Fantasy? Should not the evidence lead to the question of whether the stellar evolution model is indeed wrong? Should not the preponderance of new evidence support the Fantasy, rather than challenge it? I just don't understand the stubborn reluctance to reconsider past conclusions.

http://phys.org/n...rse.html