Hubble pushed beyond limits to spot clumps of new stars in distant galaxy

July 6, 2017 by Christine Pulliam, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
In this Hubble photograph of a distant galaxy cluster, a spotty blue arc stands out against a background of red galaxies. That arc is actually three separate images of the same background galaxy. The background galaxy has been gravitationally lensed, its light magnified and distorted by the intervening galaxy cluster. On the right: How the galaxy would look to Hubble without distortions. Credit: NASA, ESA, and T. Johnson (University of Michigan)

When it comes to the distant universe, even the keen vision of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope can only go so far. Teasing out finer details requires clever thinking and a little help from a cosmic alignment with a gravitational lens.

By applying a new computational analysis to a galaxy magnified by a gravitational lens, astronomers have obtained images 10 times sharper than what Hubble could achieve on its own. The results show an edge-on disk galaxy studded with brilliant patches of newly formed .

"When we saw the reconstructed image we said, 'Wow, it looks like fireworks are going off everywhere,'" said astronomer Jane Rigby of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The galaxy in question is so far away that we see it as it appeared 11 billion years ago, only 2.7 billion years after the big bang. It is one of more than 70 strongly lensed galaxies studied by the Hubble Space Telescope, following up targets selected by the Sloan Giant Arcs Survey, which discovered hundreds of strongly lensed galaxies by searching Sloan Digital Sky Survey imaging data covering one-fourth of the sky.

The gravity of a giant cluster of between the target galaxy and Earth distorts the more 's light, stretching it into an arc and also magnifying it almost 30 times. The team had to develop special computer code to remove the distortions caused by the gravitational lens, and reveal the disk galaxy as it would normally appear.

The galaxy cluster SDSS J1110+6459 is located about 6 billion light-years from Earth and contains hundreds of galaxies. At left, a distinctive blue arc is actually composed of three separate images of a more distant background galaxy called SGAS J111020.0+645950.8. The background galaxy has been magnified, distorted, and multiply imaged by the gravity of the galaxy cluster in a process known as gravitational lensing. Credit: NASA, ESA, and T. Johnson (University of Michigan)

The resulting reconstructed image revealed two dozen clumps of newborn stars, each spanning about 200 to 300 light-years. This contradicted theories suggesting that star-forming regions in the distant, early universe were much larger, 3,000 light-years or more in size.

"There are star-forming knots as far down in size as we can see," said doctoral student Traci Johnson of the University of Michigan, lead author of two of the three papers describing the research.

Without the magnification boost of the , Johnson added, the disk galaxy would appear perfectly smooth and unremarkable to Hubble. This would give astronomers a very different picture of where stars are forming.

While Hubble highlighted new stars within the lensed galaxy, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will uncover older, redder stars that formed even earlier in the galaxy's history. It will also peer through any obscuring dust within the galaxy.

"With the Webb Telescope, we'll be able to tell you what happened in this galaxy in the past, and what we missed with Hubble because of dust," said Rigby.

Explore further: Hubble scopes out a galaxy of stellar birth

More information: * "Star Formation at z=2.481 in the Lensed Galaxy SDSS J1110+6459: Star Formation Down to 30 Parsec Scales," Traci L. Johnson et al., 2017, to appear in the Astrophysical Journal Letters arxiv.org/abs/1707.00706

* "Star Formation at z=2.481 in the Lensed Galaxy SDSS J1110+6459, I: Lens Modeling and Source Reconstruction," Traci L. Johnson et al., 2017, to appear in the Astrophysical Journal arxiv.org/abs/1707.00707

* "Star Formation at z=2.481 in the Lensed Galaxy SDSS J1110+6459, II: What Is Missed at the Normal Resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope?" J. R. Rigby et al., 2017, to appear in the Astrophysical Journal arxiv.org/abs/1707.00704

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Tuxford
1 / 5 (2) Jul 07, 2017
The resulting reconstructed image revealed two dozen clumps of newborn stars, each spanning about 200 to 300 light-years. This contradicted theories suggesting that star-forming regions in the distant, early universe were much larger, 3,000 light-years or more in size.

But why?? Shssss... Don't mention it.

Because the star forming regions are growing from within, not from without. Active large stars ejecting new matter therefrom into surrounding local region, thereby creating new stars locally. Regions of greater matter density are naturally more active in producing new matter within. And just like more recent galaxies, since the universe is far older than the merger maniacs contend in their Huge Bang Fantasy model. But don't tell them that. It is too upsetting, disturbing their world-view.
Tuxford
1 / 5 (2) Jul 09, 2017
"There are star-forming knots as far down in size as we can see,"

Very much like those in the nearby galaxy here:

https://phys.org/...tml#nRlv

No wonder the merger maniacs are so constantly confused. They have their model entirely backwards. This is very convenient for the DoD spooks, who prefer it that way. Likely they helped steer the consensus toward fantasy a long time ago. An entire generation has been schooled in cosmological nonsense, dumbing down the science community, for the cause of maintaining national security. Hard to believe? You likely never had a high-level security clearance.

Fake news? Fake science!
Tuxford
1 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2017
"There are star-forming knots as far down in size as we can see," ...

Without the magnification boost of the gravitational lens, Johnson added, the disk galaxy would appear perfectly smooth and unremarkable to Hubble. This would give astronomers a very different picture of where stars are forming.


A 'different picture' as assumed correct for decades.

For you lay observers, this is really big news. It rather directly contradicts all that is held dear by the merger maniacs. This is why they are so silent herein. It is quite embarrassing, striking them in their intellectual ego. How can the math fairies admit their mania without appearing as the fools they really are?

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