Researchers at the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA) observatory have recently discovered a monstrous galaxy residing almost at the very edge of the charted Universe.
Dubbed “SDP.81”, the newly discovered monstrous galaxy can be found in the constellation Hydra, located at 11.7 billion light years away from planet Earth, and was imaged by ALMA less than a year ago, in October 2014, during a high resolution test observation campaign.
The researchers from the University of Tokyo were aided by a natural telescopic phenomenon commonly referred to as a gravitational lens in the scientific community. They modeled the lensing effects and corrected for them to point out the distribution of large stellar cradles in the monstrous galaxy.
The gravitational lens in question is created by a massive foreground galaxy sitting at 3.4 billion light years away from our planet and serving as a natural telescope that magnifies the image of the SDP.81.
What the team found was not just inside information into star formation, but they also uncovered the presence of a supermassive black hole sitting comfortably at the center of the foreground galaxy.
It turns out that the newly discovered monstrous galaxy forms stars at a rate of hundreds to thousands of times faster than the one of our very own host, the Milky Way. The researchers stress that this information in highly valuable in understanding the evolutionary process that starburst galaxies go through, as well as the supermassive black holes inside the galaxies.
They took the initial gravitational lens even further, building a sophisticated and unique model of it. It is capable of adjusting distortions with high precision, and has revealed the existence of several dust clouds within the galaxy. Researchers believe they are giant molecule clouds where start and planets get born.
Rob Ivison, co-author, gave a statement explaining just how amazing the image reconstructed by ALMA truly is: “ALMA’s huge collecting area, the large separation of its antennas, and the stable atmosphere above the Atacama desert all lead to exquisite detail in both images and spectra. That means that we get very sensitive observations, as well as information about how the different parts of the galaxy are moving. We can study galaxies at the other end of the Universe as they merge and create huge numbers of stars. This is the kind of stuff that gets me up in the morning!”.
Image Source: scitechdaily.com