Astronomers show galaxies had 'mature' shapes 11.5 billion years ago

Aug 15, 2013
This image shows a "slice" of the Universe some 11 billion years back in time. The shape is that of the Hubble tuning fork diagram, which describes and separates galaxies according to their morphology into spiral (S), elliptical (E), and lenticular (S0) galaxies. On the left of this diagram are the ellipticals, with lenticulars in the middle, and the spirals branching out on the right side. The spirals on the bottom branch have bars cutting through their centers. The galaxies at these distances from us are small and still in the process of forming. This image is illustrative; the Hubble images used were selected based on their appearance. The individual distance to these galaxies is only approximate. Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Kornmesser

Studying the evolution and anatomy of galaxies using the Hubble Space Telescope, an international team of astronomers led by doctoral candidate BoMee Lee and her advisor Mauro Giavalisco at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have established that mature-looking galaxies existed much earlier than previously known, when the universe was only about 2.5 billion years old, or 11.5 billion years ago."Finding them this far back in time is a significant discovery," says lead author Lee.

The team used two cameras, Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), and Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), plus observations from the Hubble's Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey (CANDELS), the largest project in the scope's history with 902 assigned orbits of observing time, to explore the shapes and colors of distant over the last 80 percent of the Universe's history. Results appear in the current online issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

Lee points out that the huge CANDELS dataset allowed her team to analyze a larger number of these galaxies, a total 1,671, than ever before, consistently and in detail. "The significant resolution and sensitivity of WFC3 was a great resource for us to use in order to consistently study ancient galaxies in the early Universe," says Lee.

She and colleagues confirm for an earlier period than ever before that the shapes and colors of these extremely distant young galaxies fit the visual classification system introduced in 1926 by Edwin Hubble and known as the Hubble Sequence. It classifies galaxies into two main groups: Ellipticals and , with as a transitional group. The system is based on their ability to form stars, which in turn determines their colors, shape and size.

Why modern galaxies are divided into these two main types and what caused this difference is a key question of cosmology, says Giavalisco. "Another piece of the puzzle is that we still do not know why today 'red and dead' elliptical galaxies are old and unable to form stars, while spirals, like our own Milky Way, keep forming new stars. This is not just a classification scheme, it corresponds to a profound difference in the galaxies' physical properties and how they were formed."

This image shows "slices" of the Universe at different times throughout its history (present day, and at 4 and 11 billion years ago). Each slice goes further back in time, showing how galaxies of each type appear. The shape is that of the Hubble tuning fork diagram, which describes and separates galaxies according to their morphology into spiral (S), elliptical (E), and lenticular (S0) galaxies. On the left of this diagram are the ellipticals, with lenticulars in the middle, and the spirals branching out on the right side. The spirals on the bottom branch have bars cutting through their centers. Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Kornmesser

Lee adds, "This was a key question: When, and over what timescale did the Hubble Sequence form? To answer this, you need to peer at distant galaxies and compare them to their closer relatives, to see if they too can be described in the same way. The Hubble Sequence underpins a lot of what we know about how galaxies form and evolve. It turns out that we could show this sequence was already in place as early as 11.5 billion years ago."

Galaxies as massive as the Milky Way are relatively rare in the young Universe. This scarcity prevented previous studies from gathering a large enough sample of mature galaxies to properly describe their characteristics. Galaxies at these early times appear to be mostly irregular systems with no clearly defined morphology. There are blue star-forming galaxies that sometimes show structures such as discs, bulges and messy clumps, as well as red galaxies with little or no star formation. Until now, nobody knew if the red and blue colors were related to galaxy morphology, the UMass Amherst authors note.

There was previous evidence that the Hubble Sequence holds true as far back as around 8 billion years ago, the authors point out, but their new observations push a further 2.5 billion years back in cosmic time, covering 80 percent of the history of the Universe.

Previous studies had also reached into this epoch to study lower-mass galaxies, but none had conclusively looked at large, mature galaxies like the Milky Way. Lee and colleagues' new observations confirm that all galaxies this far back, big and small, already fit into the sequence a mere 2.5 billion years after the Big Bang.

"Clearly, the Hubble Sequence formed very quickly in the history of the cosmos, it was not a slow process," adds Giavalisco. "Now we have to go back to theory and try to figure out how and why."

Explore further: Exoplanet measured with remarkable precision

More information: dx.doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/774/1/47

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cantdrive85
1.7 / 5 (18) Aug 14, 2013
"Now we have to go back to theory and try to figure out how and why."


"The only relevant test of the validity of a hypothesis is comparison of prediction with experience."
Milton Friedman

Benni
1.4 / 5 (18) Aug 14, 2013
Mature galaxies appearing at the observational edge of the Universe has been a frequent topic in our Astronomy club meetings. Now we have even better material than just HUDF JD2 to counter the claim that the age of the Universe is 13.66 Gyrs as found in the integral used in every redshift calculator on the internet. New space based optics & spectroscopy will demand a new redshift limit within the next ten years.
IMP-9
3.2 / 5 (11) Aug 15, 2013
Now we have even better material than just HUDF JD2 to counter the claim that the age of the Universe is 13.66 Gyrs...


To make a claim like that you would have to understand galaxy formation. Otherwise you couldn't possibly state this falsified the age of the universe. So please share this miraculous knowledge of yours.

No one is under the illusion that current galaxy formation models are a finished product, so this does not yet say there is any problem with the age of the universe.
Hev
1 / 5 (15) Aug 15, 2013
Perhaps this is likely to almost be confirmation that the universe is infinite. To assume it all started at one point in time is just an adaptation of the creation myths which saw us as the centre of the universe. Where ever we are will seem to be the centre. But the more and better we can see the more the distant bits turn out to be much like our local bit. Please note I tried to give 5 stars to some of the other entries but they all came up as one star only. Software not working properly. Which isn't going to help us find the limits of the universe if it doesn't improve.
Tuxford
1.2 / 5 (17) Aug 15, 2013
Patch! We need another patch for the Huge Bang Fantasy. Please. Someone offer another patch....quick.
rwinners
4 / 5 (4) Aug 15, 2013
Just can't wait for the next huge space telescope!
verkle
1 / 5 (10) Aug 15, 2013
I don't know about you, but when I looked at the various galactal formations of Now, 4BY ago (dates per their literature), and 11BY ago, I don't see much difference. They could easily be formed at the same time.

I think as telescopes increase in resolution, we'll see galaxies even further out that have such orderly shapes. They just don't have such good resolution now that they appear as fuzzy or messy clumps.

vidyunmaya
1 / 5 (13) Aug 15, 2013
sub: Astronomy to catch-up with Cosmology studies.
CANDELS dataset is a elcome feature for think-tanks
Cosmic function of the Universe specifies orderliness.
see projections in books .PLASMA VISION OF THE UNIVERSE-1993 (Reg No: TXU 729718 ) (No# Pages-95, Figures 58)
2.THE VISION OF COSMIC TO *PREM UNIVERSE-1995 (Reg No: TXU 893693 )*PREM: Plasma Regulated Electro-Magnetic Universe (No# Pages 148,Figures 56)
Vidyardhicosmology [dot] blogspot [dot] com
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (12) Aug 17, 2013
Re: "Galaxies as massive as the Milky Way are relatively rare in the young Universe."

This seemingly innocuous statement is actually a really important point in the bigger picture of cosmology and astrophysics, for a critical thinker might reasonably figure that the black hole at the center of our galaxy must necessarily lens the stars we can observe to be rotating closest to this center. The fact that such lensing is absolutely and definitively NOT OBSERVED should at least inspire some caution ...

http://www.extinc...gs08.htm

But, instead, students are today taught the theory of lensing as though it's an established fact -- even when dark matter is required in order to get the math to work.

We are spinning our wheels, folks.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (11) Aug 17, 2013
Re: "No one is under the illusion that current galaxy formation models are a finished product, so this does not yet say there is any problem with the age of the universe."

Yet, the approach of funding the elaboration of just one hypothesis would seem to not appreciate the complexity of the endeavor that is being attempted. The decision to abandon the entire scientific framework of a steady-state universe was based entirely upon the widespread perception that the cosmic microwave background could only be explained by recourse to a creation event.

However, Fred Hoyle in 2001 stated that "There is no explanation at all of the microwave background in the Big Bang theory. All you can say for the theory is that it permits you to put it in if you want to put it in. So, you look and it is there, so you put it in directly. It isn't an explanation."

And Jean-Claude Pecker added:

"Actually, the 3 degree radiation, to me, has not a cosmological value. It is observed in any cosmology"
Gmr
4.3 / 5 (6) Aug 17, 2013
Oh dear.

See, there is nothing there that says "steady state" - There is something there that says there might be factors in the current model of galactic evolution that needs refinement. But there is nothing there that says "steady state."

This is apparently one of the major disconnects among folks who wish to espouse alternate theories. It's not a pageant where the next runner up gets to claim the crown. Science doesn't work like that. You have, instead, an explanation that fits that might have a few gaps that gets supplanted by another explanation that covers all of the previous explanation and then fills in some gaps.

You can't have a theory made up of a few gap-fills strung together and nothing else. That would be similar to saying a pair of glass eyes won the pageant after the original winner was found to be slightly wall-eyed.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (12) Aug 17, 2013
Re: "There is something there that says there might be factors in the current model of galactic evolution that needs refinement. But there is nothing there that says "steady state.""

You appear to be arguing against peoples' inherent rights to "think like a scientist". If I'm reading you properly, what you're saying is that the scientists will think like a scientist and inform us of their conclusions -- but that we should not expect to be able to critique any inherent ideology which we might observe as outsiders.

Re: "It's not a pageant where the next runner up gets to claim the crown. Science doesn't work like that."

That's an interesting comment, for either there was a creation event or not. If not, then it would seem that we can literally throw away a great percentage of the papers that have been published over the past 50 years or so. And at the end of the day, it would be nobody's fault other than the community who decided to prematurely jump to conclusions.
Gmr
4.3 / 5 (6) Aug 17, 2013
But, HannesAlfven, even if the Big Bang was ultimately shown to not bear with all of the facts, it still won't make your glass eyes able to claim the crown. Because, ultimately, it's not a beauty contest.

It's a "contest" of best explanation. And steady-state doesn't fit the bill on a huge number of counts.
Gmr
3 / 5 (4) Aug 17, 2013
Here's an alternate explanation that isn't steady-state: the shapes of galaxies are not age-dependent but instead are influenced by some other factor. Say, amount of dark matter. Amount or shape of halo. Dark matter halo's tend to be "cuspy" - and the "cuspier" ones that go to zero or hollow dark matter profiles tend to be around those galaxies with elliptical profiles or profiles with a large central bulge. So it may be, the less hollow the profile, the more spiral the galaxy, until with a really large, hollow profile you get an elliptical.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (10) Aug 17, 2013
Re: "And steady-state doesn't fit the bill on a huge number of counts."

What is more transparent than you seem to realize is that a community which has put so much effort at misunderstanding something might not be taken seriously when the same community subsequently claims that this something does not definitively exist.

One need only look at how these speculative ideas are being taught -- as if they are conclusive -- to understand that this community has essentially surrendered their right to authority on the steady-state idea.

You can't have it both ways: You can't both convince students to ignore it, and then expect that community to make an intelligent, rational decision about it. The decision to teach for ignorance undermines the authoritative claims that are subsequently made about it.

In order to even know what a steady state universe would look like, you'd have to first listen to the various ways it could be made to work. That first authentic step is never made.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (12) Aug 17, 2013
... never made in modern times, I should say, based upon a total re-examination of possibly effective strategies to create quantitative steady-state model(s). Most of that work has been taken up by IEEE's Transactions on Plasma Sciences, thus they would appear to be candidates for authority on that particular issue.

It's very easy to see that those who exclusively look to the Astrophysical Journal as the authoritative publication on steady state theory are generally unaware of many critiques which have been lodged on the subject of plasmas. This is in truth an enormous body of knowledge which takes many years to get up to speed on. The general thought nevertheless appears to be that students who are trained to look the other way are somehow authoritative in those critiques of mainstream theory sufficient to disbelieve them.

No offense intended, and I know these are touchy topics, but it kind of defies logic. People generally do not become experts in something by ignoring it.
Q-Star
4.4 / 5 (7) Aug 17, 2013
Dense aether assumes anything: if you cannot explain, how something did happen, you don't assume it.


But Zephyr, doesn't your dense aether start with the assumption that there is aether? Ya assume that YOUR ad hocced AWT explains anything & everything.

If you cannot explain, how the Universe was formed from nothing, don't assume it. If you cannot explain, why/how the Universe should have particular geometry, don't assume it. If you cannot explain, why the Universe should expand spontaneously and change its speed during this, don't assume it.


And above all don't assume that Zephyr would listen to any explanation, regardless of how well it explains, if it didn't include his AWT and Unified Water Ripple Surface Theory.

Don't force the math into explanation of phenomena. Be natural, be spontaneous. That's is.


In other words, discipline, structure, consistency, and substance are to be avoided at all costs.
Gmr
4.5 / 5 (8) Aug 17, 2013
No, HannesAlfven. The point is the arguments were made. A long time ago. And eventually, they failed to predict anything and failed to account for much of what was later discovered. And the CMB was predicted - the remnants of the fireball - in "Big Bang" cosmologies but not in "Steady State" cosmologies.

What were offered were ad-hoc explanations for why physics doesn't operate the way it does, or other hopeful explanations that for whatever reason sought to avoid any implication that things might not be eternally the same.

And some still persist in insisting that somehow it will still be validated if only people really, really look with open hearts, squint and tilt their heads to the left, and clap really, really hard like they mean it.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (13) Aug 17, 2013
And the CMB was predicted - the remnants of the fireball - in "Big Bang" cosmologies but not in "Steady State" cosmologies.


It's funny how BB supporters view of history is always a bit skewed from reality.
http://redshift.v...3ASS.PDF
Q-Star
3.7 / 5 (9) Aug 17, 2013
Medieval religion admitted the nonsenses, just to keep its priests their jobs and "grant system".


Modern religion admitted a few nonsenses of their own.

Modern science isn't any different in this regard.


Modern science and Medieval religion are the same? No different? Well ripple me on the water surface, they sure fooled me.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (14) Aug 17, 2013
Modern science and Medieval religion are the same?

"I was there when Abbe Georges Lemaitre first proposed this theory, Lemaitre was, at the time, both a member of the Catholic hierarchy and an accomplished scientist. He said in private that this theory was a way to reconcile science with St. Thomas Aquinas' theological dictum of creatio ex nihilo or creation out of nothing." Hannes Alfven

It seems as if the space sciences are merely an extension of the church...
Gmr
4.4 / 5 (7) Aug 17, 2013
Crank Rule #1: Deny Deny Deny. When something is shown that violates tenets of your crank theory, or the crank theory to which you adhere, Deny. Deny the data is correct. When that's no longer optional, Deny that any predictions were made. Keep going until you eventually come to the point where you're arguing the validity of reality. Deny reality, and any objective assessment of reality. You are done. Without external validation, reality cannot be proven from within reality; ergo, whatever you dream is true.

Retire having succeeded in arriving where you started.
HenryFerguson
2.8 / 5 (9) Aug 18, 2013
As co-Principal Investigator of the CANDELS survey, I'd like to clear up a misimpression that one might get from looking at the montage of galaxies -- -- unfortunately there was a bit more "artistic license" taken with the image for this press release than there should have been, and we failed to put the brakes on before the press release went out. The pictures of the galaxies marked as "11 billion years" are not at the right redshift (redshift z=2.5 corresponds to a lookback time of 11 billion years). If you would like to see what the Hubble images of such galaxies like, head on over to the CANDELS blog.
HenryFerguson
2.6 / 5 (10) Aug 18, 2013
The basic conclusion of the papers on which this story was based is that we can start to see the dichotomy between star-forming galaxies being "disk like" and non-star-forming galaxies being "spheroid like" already being set into place 11 billion years ago. We wish we could see galaxies 11 billion years ago with the sort of clarity shown on the press-release image, but unfortunately even with Hubble we can't see that level of detail...and to the extent that we can distinguish detail they look (a) smaller and (b) generally bluer, and (c) less well-ordered than present-day galaxies.
Gmr
3 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2013
Link to above here: http://candels-co...ion.html
lkdjfsd
1 / 5 (4) Aug 19, 2013
I know that this may be a stupid comment, however, I think that the Hubble constant is evidence of a 4th physical dimension in space. The expansion of the universe, IMHO (which means nothing), is just the universe rotating in 4d. We can't see past the Hubble radius, because of the curvature. Yeah, I know it is un-testable, but it makes more since to me than the Big Bang beginning from nothing. It almost sounds like they are trying to prove their religion rather than seeing the universe as anything else.
lkdjfsd
1 / 5 (6) Aug 19, 2013
And dark matter could be stuff just outside our 3d view... again un-testable however it makes much more since to me.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (2) Sep 06, 2013
Sadly, I think it says a lot about the quality of the readership of this forum that posts from one of the Principal Investigators of the original study received an average rating well below 3. What he said is "from the horses mouth" and yet the cranks who dominate the responses still prefer their delusions to facts.

The key sentences to keep this in perspective are:

"Galaxies as massive as the Milky Way are relatively rare in the young Universe. This scarcity prevented previous studies from gathering a large enough sample of mature galaxies to properly describe their characteristics."

Going back another billion years (which will need JWST) will probably show the same Hubble Sequence for large galaxies but with even fewer of that size compared to their more numerous progenitors, the first small galaxies were even earlier than that.