Embryonic cluster galaxy immersed in giant cloud of cold gas

December 1, 2016, National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Artist’s impression of the cosmic “ocean” of very cold gas discovered in the heart of an embryonic cluster of galaxies, about 10 billion light-years away. A single super-galaxy is expected to condense out of this cosmic gas cloud. Credit: Modified from ESO Science Release 1431. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser. This figure is licensed under CC BY 4.0 International License

Astronomers studying a cluster of still-forming protogalaxies seen as they were more than 10 billion years ago have found that a giant galaxy in the center of the cluster is forming from a surprisingly-dense soup of molecular gas.

"This is different from what we see in the nearby Universe, where in clusters grow by cannibalizing other galaxies. In this cluster, a is growing by feeding on the soup of in which it is submerged," said Bjorn Emonts of the Center for Astrobiology in Spain, who led an international research team.

The scientists studied an object called the Spiderweb Galaxy, which actually is not yet a single galaxy, but a clustering of protogalaxies more than 10 billion light-years from Earth. At that distance, the object is seen as it was when the Universe was only 3 billion years old. The astronomers used the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) and the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) to detect carbon monoxide (CO) gas.

The presence of the CO gas indicates a larger quantity of molecular hydrogen, which is much more difficult to detect. The astronomers estimated that the molecular gas totals more than 100 billion times the mass of the Sun. Not only is this quantity of gas surprising, they said, but the gas also must be unexpectedly cold, about minus-200 degrees Celsius. Such cold molecular gas is the raw material for new stars.

The CO in this gas indicates that it has been enriched by the supernova explosions of earlier generations of stars. The carbon and oxygen in the CO was formed in the cores of stars that later exploded.

The ATCA observations revealed the total extent of the gas, and the VLA observations, much more narrowly focused, provided another surprise. Most of the cold gas was found, not within the protogalaxies, but instead between them.

"This is a huge system, with this spanning three times the size of our own Milky Way Galaxy," said Preshanth Jagannathan, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Socorro, NM.

Earlier observations of the Spiderweb, made at ultraviolet wavelengths, have indicated that rapid star formation is ongoing across most of the region occupied by the gas.

"It appears that this whole system eventually will collapse into a single, gigantic galaxy," Jagannathan said.

"These observations give us a fascinating look at what we believe is an early stage in the growth of massive galaxies in clusters, a stage far different from galaxy growth in the current Universe," said Chris Carilli, of NRAO.

The astronomers reported their findings in the December 2 issue of the journal Science.

Explore further: Galaxy cluster discovered at record-breaking distance

More information: "Molecular gas in the halo fuels the growth of a massive cluster galaxy at high redshift," Science, science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi … 1126/science.aag0512

Related Stories

Galaxy cluster discovered at record-breaking distance

August 31, 2016

A new record for the most distant galaxy cluster has been set using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes. This galaxy cluster may have been caught right after birth, a brief, but important stage of evolution ...

Astronomers spy on galaxies in the raw

June 24, 2013

(Phys.org) —A CSIRO radio telescope has detected the raw material for making the first stars in galaxies that formed when the Universe was just three billion years old—less than a quarter of its current age. This opens ...

ALMA discovers dew drops surrounding dusty spider's web

July 1, 2016

Astronomers have spotted glowing droplets of condensed water in the distant Spiderweb Galaxy – but not where they expected to find them. Detections with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) show that ...

A crash course in galactic clusters and star formation

October 15, 2014

Clusters of galaxies have back-stories worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster: their existences are marked by violence, death and birth, arising after extragalactic pile-ups where groups of galaxies crashed into each other.

Recommended for you

Prenatal forest fire exposure stunts children's growth

February 19, 2019

Forest fires are more harmful than previously imagined, causing stunted growth in children who were exposed to smoke while in the womb, according to new research from Duke University and the National University of Singapore.

'Astrocomb' opens new horizons for planet-hunting telescope

February 19, 2019

The hunt for Earth-like planets, and perhaps extraterrestrial life, just got more precise, thanks to record-setting starlight measurements made possible by a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) "astrocomb."


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

4.3 / 5 (6) Dec 02, 2016
The full article can be found here: https://arxiv.org...0387.pdf
1 / 5 (4) Dec 02, 2016
"This is different from what we see in the nearby Universe, where galaxies in clusters grow by cannibalizing other galaxies. In this cluster, a giant galaxy is growing by feeding on the soup of cold gas in which it is submerged,"

More non-sense assumptions from committed merger maniacs in love with their favorite fantasy. This observation is a bit of a problem again for the Huge Bang Fantasy, since there was not much time for so many supernovas required so support their model.

So instead of saying 'We have no clue', instead they say:
"These observations give us a fascinating look at what we believe is an early stage in the growth of massive galaxies in clusters, a stage far different from galaxy growth in the current Universe,"

Makes them sound smarter, right?
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (3) Dec 04, 2016
More non-sense assumptions
you keep repeating this (and your tired argument of "merger mania") but you haven't been able to actually produce any reputable evidence to support your argument...

you do realist that simply repeating the same thing over and over doesn't make it more true unless you're starting a cult and brainwashing someone to believe what you want them to (and, of course, to make them submissive to you for control)
Makes them sound smarter, right?
smarter than you - especially due to the fact that instead of making an ASSumption without evidence they simply make a factual generalised statement that says: "we're watching this and learning from each observation"

we get it: you don't like mainstream science

but you can always start your cult elsewhere
posting here doesn't legitimize your argument - only evidence can do that

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.