Galactic ‘Mega City’ Shows Mysterious Spots Of Star Formation (Photos)

By Elizabeth Howell, Space.com Contributor
Area Around Spiderweb Galaxy

Area Around Spiderweb Galaxy

The APEX telescope in Chile captured this view (in submillimeter light) of the area around the Spiderweb Galaxy, which is a protocluster of galaxies that are around a radio galaxy with a supermassive black hole in the center. Some of the blobs are star-forming galaxies obscured by dust.

A new photo of a huge galactic “mega city” under construction in the early universe shows star formation happening in unexpected places, scientists have found.

The new image of the Spiderweb Galaxy (also known as MRC 1138-262) shows blobs of dust that are actually galaxies, captured by a European Southern Observatory telescope in Chile. The entire galaxy cluster surrounds a radio galaxy that has a supermassive black hole at its center.

Artist’s Impression of Galaxy Cluster Forming
Artist's Impression of Galaxy Cluster Forming
Here’s where the surprise came: Scientists discovered that 10 billion years ago, star formation was happening mostly in one spot that wasn’t at the center of the galaxy complex. Astronomers instead thought star formation would happen in the filaments of the cluster. Why is unclear.
“We aimed to find the hidden star formation in the Spiderweb cluster — and succeeded — but we unearthed a new mystery in the process; it was not where we expected,” lead researcher Helmut Dannerbauer, a post-doctoral galaxy researcher at the University of Vienna, Austria, said in a statement. “The mega city is developing asymmetrically.”

Galaxy clusters are the largest structures in the universe, but their formation and evolution is poorly understood.

The image was captured using the ESO’s Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope (APEX) telescope in Chile.

APEX examined the galaxy cluster in submillimeter wavelengths designed to penetrate dust. Across 40 hours of observations, the researchers found four times as many sources of star formation than previously known.
“This is one of the deepest observations ever made with APEX and pushes the technology to its limits – as well as the endurance of the staff working at the high-altitude APEX site,” Carlos De Breuck, a co-author on the study who is the APEX project scientist at ESO said in the same statement.

These starbirth hubs are happening at the same distance as the cluster itself, according to observations using other wavelengths of light, which shows the star-formation regions must be part of the cluster.

Follow Elizabeth Howell @howellspace. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

Comments

  1. Just like the Dark Matter post this brings up the fundamental point that science improves upon the Human thought process: not needing to make the answer fit the hypothesis. Added to magickal practice with “The method of science with the aim of religion” means observational magickal practice with an honest record of first hand results; freed from any more of a belief structure than that of a fundamental hypothesis.

  2. Exactly, Scientific Illuminism, rational theurgy, etc. I think this also speaks to the arationality of ultimate reality. As much as science strives to reach a complete understanding of the universe, given time and effort, there will always be an opportunity to transcend that understanding. It’s like so many in the occult world. They find a belive structure that works for them, and they live comfortably within it. Progress stops. So many are unwilling to see the facts, let alone using those facts to revise their understanding. I also like your idea about asymmetry. Intuitively, it feels correct. Why would the mass of the universe be evenly distributed?

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