ALMA finds massive primordial galaxies swimming in vast ocean of dark matter

December 6, 2017, National Radio Astronomy Observatory
A composite image showing ALMA data (red) of the two galaxies of SPT0311-58. These galaxies are shown over a background from the Hubble Space Telescope (blue and green). The ALMA data show the two galaxies' dusty glow. The image of the galaxy on the right is distorted by gravitational lensing. The nearer foreground lensing galaxy is the green object between the two galaxies imaged by ALMA. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Marrone, et al.; B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF); NASA/ESA Hubble

Astronomers expect that the first galaxies, those that formed just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, would share many similarities with some of the dwarf galaxies we see in the nearby universe today. These early agglomerations of a few billion stars would then become the building blocks of the larger galaxies that came to dominate the universe after the first few billion years.

Ongoing observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), however, have discovered surprising examples of massive, star-filled galaxies seen when the cosmos was less than a billion years old. This suggests that smaller galactic building blocks were able to assemble into large galaxies quite quickly.

The latest ALMA observations push back this epoch of massive-galaxy formation even further by identifying two seen when the universe was only 780 million years old, or about 5 percent its current age. ALMA also revealed that these uncommonly large galaxies are nestled inside an even-more-massive cosmic structure, a halo of several trillion times more massive than the sun.

The two galaxies are in such close proximity—less than the distance from the Earth to the center of our galaxy—that they will shortly merge to form the largest galaxy ever observed at that period in cosmic history. This discovery provides new details about the emergence of large galaxies and the role that dark plays in assembling the most massive structures in the universe.

The researchers report their findings in the journal Nature.

"With these exquisite ALMA observations, astronomers are seeing the most massive galaxy known in the first billion years of the universe in the process of assembling itself," said Dan Marrone, associate professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona in Tucson and lead author on the paper.

Astronomers are seeing these galaxies during a period of cosmic history known as the Epoch of Reionization, when most of intergalactic space was suffused with an obscuring fog of cold hydrogen gas. As more stars and galaxies formed, their energy eventually ionized the hydrogen between the galaxies, revealing the universe as we see it today.

"We usually view that as the time of little galaxies working hard to chew away at the neutral intergalactic medium," said Marrone. "Mounting observational evidence with ALMA, however, has helped to reshape that story and continues to push back the time at which truly massive galaxies first emerged in the universe."

The galaxies that Marrone and his team studied, collectively known as SPT0311-58, were originally identified as a single source by the South Pole Telescope. These first observations indicated that this object was very distant and glowing brightly in infrared light, meaning that it was extremely dusty and likely going through a burst of star formation. Subsequent observations with ALMA revealed the distance and dual nature of the object, clearly resolving the pair of interacting galaxies.

Artist impression of a pair of galaxies from the very early universe. Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF; D. Berry

To make this observation, ALMA had some help from a gravitational lens, which provided an observing boost to the telescope. Gravitational lenses form when an intervening massive object, like a galaxy or galaxy cluster, bends the light from more distant galaxies. They do, however, distort the appearance of the object being studied, requiring sophisticated computer models to reconstruct the image as it would appear in its unaltered state.

This "de-lensing" process provided intriguing details about the galaxies, showing that the larger of the two is forming stars at a rate of 2,900 solar masses per year. It also contains about 270 billion times the mass of our sun in gas and nearly 3 billion times the mass of our sun in dust. "That's a whopping large quantity of dust, considering the young age of the system," noted Justin Spilker, a recent graduate of the University of Arizona and now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin.

The astronomers determined that this galaxy's rapid star formation was likely triggered by a close encounter with its slightly smaller companion, which already hosts about 35 billion solar masses of stars and is increasing its rate of starburst at the breakneck pace of 540 solar masses per year.

The researchers note that galaxies of this era are "messier" than the ones we see in the nearby universe. Their more jumbled shapes would be due to the vast stores of gas raining down on them and their ongoing interactions and mergers with their neighbors.

The new observations also allowed the researchers to infer the presence of a truly massive surrounding both galaxies. Dark matter provides the pull of gravity that causes the universe to collapse into structures (galaxies, groups and clusters of galaxies, etc.).

"If you want to see if a galaxy makes sense in our current understanding of cosmology, you want to look at the dark matter halo—the collapsed dark matter structure—in which it resides," said Chris Hayward, associate research scientist at the Center for Computational Astrophysics at the Flatiron Institute in New York City. "Fortunately, we know very well the ratio between dark matter and normal matter in the , so we can estimate what the dark matter halo mass must be."

By comparing their calculations with current cosmological predictions, the researchers found that this halo is one of the most massive that should exist at that time.

"There are more galaxies discovered with the South Pole Telescope that we're following up on," said Joaquin Vieira of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, "and there is a lot more survey data that we are just starting to analyze. Our hope is to find more objects like this, possibly even more distant ones, to better understand this population of extreme dusty galaxies and especially their relation to the bulk population of galaxies at this epoch."

"In any case, our next round of ALMA observations should help us understand how quickly these came together and improve our understanding of massive galaxy formation during reionization," added Marrone.

Explore further: Properties of a massive galaxy 800 million years after the Big Bang

More information: D. P. Marrone et al, Galaxy growth in a massive halo in the first billion years of cosmic history, Nature (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nature24629

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dogbert
2.6 / 5 (15) Dec 06, 2017
The article and the title is misleading. The "vast ocean of dark matter" is merely inferred. Take X amount of normal matter and multiply by the supposed dark of dark matter to normal matter ratio to yeild the inferred dark matter.

Scientists really love their dark matter. They just create it as a matter of course now.
wduckss
1 / 5 (6) Dec 06, 2017
"ALMA finds massive primordial galaxies swimming in vast ocean of dark matter" is incorrect, resulting from a flawed theory.

It's correct
ALMA finds massive galaxies swimming in dark matter

From the article is not clear whether they speak, the authors about the molecular clouds, which the authors called galaxies.
"How are the spiral and other types of galaxies formed?"
http://www.global...rmed.pdf
rrwillsj
3 / 5 (2) Dec 06, 2017
Well db, I fear that I must disappoint you by sort of agreeing with your unproven dismissal of the DM/DE phenomena. As I'd bet we'd have different interpretations of the preliminary data and speculative guessing.

Still got a long ways to go before there will be a definite conclusion of most probable theory. With multiple verification's of empirically produced evidence.

What is irritating me is this breathless wonderment at every new discovery. As somehow being the final word for the ages!

This universe popped out of chaos and shows the slapdash incoherence of ever changing reality over the aeons.

Our little monkey brains keep trying to make sense of the cosmic incongruity of random events and haphazard phenomena. We experience and manipulate on a very local, very temporary scale we can comprehend.

Hurray for us! But then again, what else do we have to do with our short span of existence?
rrwillsj
5 / 5 (2) Dec 06, 2017
wds, my understanding is that this research was about a very early time period in the existence of this Universe.

Many, maybe most of the spiral galaxies you are thinking about? Noticeably began forming spiral structures after the first billion years?
cantdrive85
2 / 5 (16) Dec 06, 2017
Heaping assumption on top of imaginary conjecture mixed with faerie tales is by no means science. This is an abomination of science, little more than a heaping pile excrement dressed up to look like chocolate ice cream. You will be doing yourself a favor by passing on this BS and not cluttering your mind with the nonsensical mumbo jumbo of these morons.
Chris_Reeve
Dec 06, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
mackita
1 / 5 (4) Dec 06, 2017
This observation is striking, but its interpretation would depend on interpretation of primordial galaxies. I presume from context, it's the most distant early galaxies observable at high red-shift values. Our Milky way is also surrounded with old dwarf galaxies, which contain high amount of dark matter. The general understanding therefore is, the older galaxy is, the less visible stars it has, the more it has dark matter. Whereas these young - i.e. distant galaxies contain generally small amount of dark matter.

Now we can read the opposite.
ursiny33
2.5 / 5 (8) Dec 06, 2017
There is no way a massive galaxy can contain hundreds of billion of stars all just 750 million years old or younger , wear that stupid on another corner its mechanically impossible to construct those numbers in a galaxy in 700 million years
mackita
3.4 / 5 (5) Dec 06, 2017
@Ursini33: It's definitely not the first observation of mature galaxy in early Universe - and very probably the last one neither... What the Big Bang did wrong?
FredJose
1.5 / 5 (8) Dec 07, 2017
Ongoing observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), however, have discovered surprising examples of massive, star-filled galaxies seen when the cosmos was less than a billion years old. This suggests that smaller galactic building blocks were able to assemble into large galaxies quite quickly.

So it's a surpise because the current paradigm dictates that the "early" universe should reveal immature, budding galaxies. Yet here we have fully formed very mature galaxies exactly like our own in that same space. So instead of questioning the paradigm, they instead make the irrational conclusion that somehow, miraculously, the speed of "formation" is greater than expected.

One needs reminding that there is currently ZERO observation and verification of ANY galaxy "forming" on its own, all by itself from a cloud of gas/dust. Not even individual stars have been observed "forming" by themselves, much less galaxies.

The big bang religion kills logic.
milnik
1 / 5 (7) Dec 07, 2017
First and foremost: the big bang is a big scam, great mischief, big nonsense, a lot of ignorance and ignorance of logic and natural laws, and especially this is the great intention of the "tycoon of science" to catch as much as possible in the field of his "dark" stories and theories. ignorant in order to declare themselves to be "the creator of the universe"
All of the evidence presented here is proof that these researchers do not know anything about themselves or their origin and possibilities, even though we are the last patent of the Creator of the universe, and some want to make their Creator fake and nonexistent.
rrwillsj
3.9 / 5 (7) Dec 07, 2017
Oh brother! The EU/religious con artists are out in force today. Pompously flogging their primitive, anthropomorphic stuporstitions. Dictating infantile edicts of irrationality to the Universe.

Psst! Hey fella. Verified data is neither "right" nor "wrong". It just is. Don't need your approval or mine, for that matter.

If the empirical data gathered by physical experimentation, does not agree with your childish rants? Guess which one I'm going to grudgingly accept?

And I can understand why you all feel so strongly against scientific research. As experimental research continues to gather evidence that reality is not the comfortable cocoon. Swaddling you in perpetual infancy of religious belief.
Chris_Reeve
Dec 07, 2017
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Chris_Reeve
Dec 07, 2017
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Chris_Reeve
Dec 07, 2017
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Chris_Reeve
Dec 07, 2017
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Da Schneib
3 / 5 (2) Dec 07, 2017
Aaaaaand Chris_Spam strikes again.
milnik
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 08, 2017
@rrwillsj,
Do you think that they are religious people who are aware that there is someone who creates this all in the material-energy universe, or are they who do not understand even God himself, or why and how does all this exist? If science firmly holds for the "confirmation" of the emergence of BB, as drunk as it is for the plot, then none of these participants finds either the Creator nor does he respect and understand his existence. For me, all such people are poisoned by an unknown substance they have sown in science, not knowing themselves or the structure of the universe.
This story of this passionate black hole is evidence that these scholars do not have any logic and seem to have their consciousness overwhelmed, and awareness is the power of understanding the true causes of the phenomenon in the universe. The black hole is formed at the end of the process of forming celestial bodies
milnik
1 / 5 (4) Dec 08, 2017
the purpose of which is to return the matter back to the form of substance AETHER from which the substance is formed.
Without this knowledge, none of you will ever know what they are and how they are formed: matter, energy, gravity, magnetism, light, various waves, chemical elements, celestial bodies, and processes in these existences have a sequence of unfolding.
It seems that nobody from science believes that there is a God. That is why they are influenced by the theories with which they are trying to become the "gods" that will explain that they are those who are the eldest and from your very BB.
It is time to destroy that scientific doctrine that denies the one who formed them, but they punished themselves and as "scientific Daltonists" wander through their dark matter, using their dark energy.
rrwillsj
3 / 5 (4) Dec 08, 2017
C_R & m, your piteous plagiarism, out of context from obsolete textbooks, doesn't do your fevered arguments any favors.

For quite sometime now, I have criticized the great majority of scientists for being too religious.

Like us all, scientists grew up immersed in a religious culture. Even when they matured and put childish superstitions behind them? Those gospel fairytales still lurk in their subconscious. And I believe, colors their hypothesis and how they view the data gathered from their experiments.

C_R & m, you both fail to physically produce any devices based on your magical gibberish. You tediously repeat snippets of other peoples work but never anything you have accomplished. You have no original theories of your own. Both of you have failed to conduct or even propose any original experiments to prove your contentions.

For crying outloud! Your claims are a lot closer to voodoo hysterics than theological debate.
milnik
1 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2017
@rrwillsj,
Let's leave religion apart, but one who does not know what God is, lives on the level of instinct and a little bit of an intellect. Such will be difficult to reach intuition, because it is an unlimited connection with the Spiritual Entity of the Universe (SEU). But let me explain,
This is not the place where I can publish my papers from several areas on a couple of hundred pages. These are the proofs that correct or change: Kenig's theorem on the movement of a free body, Kepler's laws, evidence of the motion of all forms of celestial bodies, proof of the causes of the precession of the perihelion of the planet (Merkur), the explanation of the process of creation and the disappearance of matter (renewal processes) form of matter from quarks and gluons to clusters of galaxies, causes of climate change and the like.
Why am I not publishing it, anywhere?
milnik
1 / 5 (3) Dec 09, 2017
Because today's science and all its institutions, from faculties to academies of science, are completely polluted by TAJKUN POLICY, which has an interest only to fill up a pocket with money from those who want to bring something new from science.
I've tried several hundred times in many of these magazines to publish something, but these VAMPERS ask me to pay them what they publish, regardless of how much this work is worth. It does not interest anyone today.
It will be clear to you now why we are so "poor". If you are interested, I will give you a formula that moves both celestial bodies and even photons!
Chris_Reeve
Dec 09, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
milnik
1 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2017
C_R,
I'm giving my reasons on my behalf.
Take an example, a closed circle: a turbine of a hydroelectric power plant-generator-a transmission line-transformer-consumer, say a bulb. How and why the photons are emitted from the light bulb and how and from what they form.?
Or: take a magnet and pour a twist of copper wire in the shape of a roller on it. Ever closed that circle to help bulbs, perpetuum mobile is formed. The lamp lights up infinitely long or as long as it stays. Where do you come from and how?
Captain Stumpy
3 / 5 (2) Dec 11, 2017
@lying POS pseudoscience eu cult idiot chris/hannes
What the electrical cosmologists are arguing is that we should look to laboratory plasma physics observations to create the cosmic plasma models ... The astrophysical community has rejected that approach
this is absolute rubbish and I've proven you wrong more than a dozen times this year alone

one link proves you're an idiot: https://ocw.mit.e...ophysics

since you have continued to avoid providing evidence to support your claims, I ask again: where is the higher education facility that doesn't require astrophysicists to take plasma physics?

more to the point, why do you continue to refuse to accept plasma physics labs that produce evidence for astrophysics?

lastly, why do you still ignore proven validated physics from engineers that validate astrophysicists claims?

repeating your lies don't make them more true, you idiot
milnik
1 / 5 (2) Dec 11, 2017
@CS,
this site: https: //ocw.mit.e...ophysics, and all the courses offered for those who know little of the areas mentioned in these courses are all "reinforced with glass rods" or without "reinforcement, and all is based on fictitious phenomena, illogical theories and some evidence derived from the model and incomprehensible equations.
What's wrong with all these courses:
ignorance of the structure of the universe, the ignorance of the formation of matter, the appearance of magnetism and gravity as the two basic agents of all phenomena, the ignorance of the formation of plasma and its properties, the ignorance of the motion and the cause of the motion of all celestial bodies.
Here is just a plasma: when forming matter from the substance AETHER, a quark gluon plasma is first formed.
milnik
1 / 5 (2) Dec 11, 2017
Such a kind of plasma science does not have the capacity to form, because there magnetic fields there are billions of times stronger than these artificials obtained in laboratories. Here, science forms a plasma with lasers, increased compression and cooling of some chemical elements, for which they do not know if they have any more unknown ones.
All those who think that laboratories can simulate phenomena in the universe are not pure consciousness. I keep repeating myself: if one does not know why our moon has one same side to the Earth, it does not have enough knowledge of the movements of celestial bodies in general. Kepler's laws need to be corrected.
Leave insults, because you only draw yourself with them to the lowest level of humanity.

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