Bizarre, glowing space ‘blob’ contains two young galaxies generating new stars at feverish pace

Bizarre, glowing space ‘blob’ contains two young galaxies generating new stars at feverish pace

The blob is among the largest and most baffling objects our universe has. Cal Tech's Palomar Observatory researchers found the gargantuan object nearly 16 years back. It shines 10 times larger in comparison to the Milky Way.

Initially the scientists thought that the blob in their data was a coincidence. But, later they noticed more of the baffling blotches and realized detection of something new: glowing hydrogen gas clouds at a distance of 11.5 billion light years from our planet.

The clouds were dubbed ‘Lyman-alpha emitters’ for the specific light wavelength that originates from them. They named the actually finding as ‘Lyman-alpha blob 1’. But even after naming the blobs, they had no idea about what they really were, or what was causing them to glow.

Thus a group of astronomers visited the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA), which is a collection of 66 radio telescopes in northern Chile desert, in an attempt to look inside Lyman-alpha blob 1.

The Astrophysical Journal recently published a report mentioning that the blob included two young galaxies producing fresh stars at an intense speed. The lighting of the cloud of gas was a result of their activity, creating the characteristic of the blob to diffuse glow.

In a statement, main author Jim Geach, an astronomer at the University of Hertfordshire, said, “Think of streetlight on foggy night. You see diffuse glow because light is scattering off tiny water droplets. A similar thing is happening here, except streetlight is an intensely star-forming galaxy and fog is huge cloud of intergalactic gas. The galaxies are illuminating their surroundings”.

Astronomers can better understand the formation and evolution of galaxies through the findings.

As per researchers, both the galaxies at the center of the Lyman-alpha blob were in their preliminary stages of development, emitting minimal 100 sun-size stars annually. With the passage of time, they could come together leading to the formation of a single, elliptical galaxy.


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