Largest ever survey of very distant galaxy clusters completed

Jun 30, 2009
This is one of the most distant galaxy clusters ever discovered. Credit: G. Wilson, UC Riverside, and A. Muzzin, Yale University.

An international team of researchers led by a UC Riverside astronomer has completed the largest ever survey designed to find very distant clusters of galaxies.

Named the Spitzer Adaptation of the Red-sequence Cluster Survey, "SpARCS" detects galaxy clusters using deep ground-based optical observations from the CTIO 4m and CFHT 3.6m telescopes, combined with Spitzer infrared observations.

In a universe which astronomers believe to be 13.7 billion years old, SpARCS is designed to find clusters, snapped as they appeared long ago in time, when the universe was 6 billion years old or younger.

Clusters of galaxies are rare regions of the universe consisting of hundreds of galaxies containing trillions of stars, plus hot gas and mysterious . Most of the mass in clusters is actually in the form of invisible dark matter which astronomers are convinced exists because of its influence on the orbits of the visible galaxies.

An example of one of the most massive clusters found in the SpARCS survey is shown in the accompanying image. Seen when the universe was a mere 4.8 billion years old, this is also one of the most distant clusters ever discovered. Many similar-color red cluster galaxies can be seen in the image (the green blobs are stars in our own galaxy, The Milky Way).

"We are looking at massive structures very early in the universe's history," said Gillian Wilson, an associate professor of physics and astronomy who leads the SpARCS project.

The SpARCS survey has discovered about 200 new cluster candidates.

"It is very exciting to have discovered such a large sample of these rare objects," Wilson said. "Although we are catching these clusters at early times, we can tell by their red colors that many of the galaxies we are seeing are already quite old. We will be following up this new sample for years to come, to better understand how clusters and their galaxies form and evolve in the ."

More information: A summary of the survey and additional images of newly discovered clusters may be found in two companion papers led by Wilson and Adam Muzzin of Yale University, published in the June 20 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

Source: University of California - Riverside (news : web)

Explore further: Spectacular supernova's mysteries revealed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Spitzer Sees 9 Billion Years Back in Time

Mar 21, 2006

Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have conducted a cosmic safari to seek out a rare galactic species. Their specimens - clusters of galaxies in the very distant universe - are few and far between, ...

Massive galaxy cluster found 10 billion light years away

Jun 06, 2006

A University of Sussex astronomer is the lead researcher for a project that has led to the discovery of the most distant cluster of galaxies observed to date. The cluster, which is 10 billion light years from Earth, is also ...

Survey Reveals Building Block Process For Biggest Galaxies

Apr 12, 2006

A new study of the universe's most massive galaxy clusters shows how mergers play a critical role in their evolution. Astronomers used the twin Gemini Observatory instruments in Hawaii and Chile, and the Hubble Space Telescope ...

Astronomers Find Hundreds of Young, Distant Galaxy Clusters

Jun 06, 2006

Astronomers have found the largest number of the most distant, youngest galaxy clusters yet, a feat that will help them observe the developing universe when it was less than half its current age and still in its formative ...

Galaxies cluster near dark matter, study finds

Apr 20, 2006

Try mixing caramel into vanilla ice cream -- you will always end up with globs and swirls of caramel. Scientists are finding that galaxies may distribute themselves in similar ways throughout the universe and ...

Recommended for you

Spectacular supernova's mysteries revealed

8 hours ago

(Phys.org) —New research by a team of UK and European-based astronomers is helping to solve the mystery of what caused a spectacular supernova in a galaxy 11 million light years away, seen earlier this ...

Supernova seen in two lights

9 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The destructive results of a mighty supernova explosion reveal themselves in a delicate blend of infrared and X-ray light, as seen in this image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and Chandra ...

Toothpaste fluorine formed in stars

Aug 21, 2014

The fluorine that is found in products such as toothpaste was likely formed billions of years ago in now dead stars of the same type as our sun. This has been shown by astronomers at Lund University in Sweden, ...

Swirling electrons in the whirlpool galaxy

Aug 20, 2014

The whirlpool galaxy Messier 51 (M51) is seen from a distance of approximately 30 million light years. This galaxy appears almost face-on and displays a beautiful system of spiral arms.

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

brant
not rated yet Jun 30, 2009
Are they young or are they old???
HenisDov
1 / 5 (1) Jul 01, 2009
Energy-Mass Superposition
The Fractal Oneness Of The Universe


The universe is the archetype of quantum within classical physics, which is the fractal oneness of the universe.

Astronomically there are two physics, a classical physics behaviour of and between galactic clusters, and a quantum physics behaviour WITHIN the galactic clusters.

The onset of big-bang's inflation, the cataclysmic resolution of the Original Superposition, started gravity, with formation - by dispersion - of galactic clusters that behave as classical Newtonian bodies and continuously reconvert their original pre-inflation masses back to energy, thus fueling the galactic clusters expansion, and with endless quantum-within-classical intertwined evolutions WITHIN the clusters in attempts to delay-resist this reconversion.


Dov Henis
(Comments from 22nd century)
http://blog.360.y...Q--?cq=1
On Energy, Mass, Gravity, Galaxies Clusters, AND Life
A Commonsensible Recapitulation
http://www.the-sc...age#2125
Updated Life's Manifest May 2009
http://www.physfo...ic=14988&st=480&#entry412704
http://www.the-sc...age#2321
Thecis
4.5 / 5 (2) Jul 01, 2009
When looking a such distances, you're "looking" back in time. So in this case you're looking at a rather young universe. But what they are saying is that even then, some of the galaxies seemed to be quite old.