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Galaxy Has 1,000 Times Our Rate of Star Formation

Article written: 19 Dec , 2007
Updated: 26 Dec , 2015
by

Here in the Milky Way, new stars are formed at a rate of roughly 4 per year; that’s considered pretty normal for spiral galaxy like ours. But researchers have found a galaxy that’s absolutely bursting with new star formation. Instead of our leisurely 4 stars per year, this distant galaxy is generating more than 4,000 new stars a year.

The galaxy, known at GOODS 850-5, is located about 12 billion light-years from Earth. This means that astronomers are seeing the light coming from it at a point when the Universe was only 1.5 billion years old.

All of the star formation in this galaxy was obscured by thick layers of dust, emitted by all the stellar nurseries. This means they’re hidden by visible-light telescopes.

By using the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Submillimeter Array (SMA) on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, the researchers were able to peer right through the obscuring dust to calculate the rate of star formation.

The irony is that the dust from all that star formation was obscuring the, uh, star formation. Here’s Wei-Hao Wang, one of the astronomers who worked on the research:

“This evidence for prolific star formation is hidden by the dust from visible-light telescopes,” Wang explained. The dust, in turn, was formed from heavy elements that had to be built up in the cores of earlier stars. This indicates, Wang said, that significant numbers of stars already had formed, then spewed those heavy elements into interstellar space through supernova explosions and stellar winds.

This discovery has come as a bit of a surprise, since astronomers used to think that the most actively star forming galaxies would be smaller and less obscured. Now they’re starting to realize that it’s actually the big dusty galaxies that form the most stars. We just couldn’t see it.

For a galaxy to be experiencing this much star formation, it must have gone through many rounds of mergers with other galaxies. And this is also surprising, considering it’s only 1.5 billion years old in the image.

Original Source: NRAO News Release


8 Responses

  1. John Mendenhall says

    “All of the star formation in this galaxy was obscured by thick layers of dust, emitted by all the stellar nurseries. This means they’re hidden by visible-light telescopes.”

    Wow, that’s a lot of telescopes. The entire population of the galaxy must be astronomers.

  2. Vicky Pollard says

    […]”This evidence for prolific star formation is hidden by the dust from visible-light telescopes,” Wang explained.[…]

    And those lots of telescopes are dirty ones, too!

  3. John Mendenhall says

    The first 2 or 3 comments, by other posters, to this story seem to have disappeared, at least for this poster (1220 EST, 12/20/2007). More serious than my first post above, they all said about the same thing, ‘Nice bit of research”, which is certainly true. If the results are confirmed by other researchers and are generally applicable, some revisions in our ideas of galaxy formation may be in order.

  4. Suan Supka says

    Fantasic! I never get tired of learning about
    our physical universe and beyond!
    The Bible describes the
    Designer of it as “the true God, Jehovah”.
    Isaiah 42:5 says: “This is what the [true] God,
    Jehovah, has said, the Creator of the heavens
    and the Grand One stretching them out; the One laying out the earth and its produce,the One giving breath to the people on it, and spirit to those walking in it.”
    Ms. S.M.Supka

  5. John M. Kulick says

    I predicted that stellar birth rates would be higher in early galaxies. The energy production of quasars is accelerated stellar physics. The effect of gravity varies due to the change in density of systems. Expansion includes the spacetime between the atoms. A denser star would evolve faster with less mass.

  6. besrat says

    interesting newsletter

  7. “For a galaxy to be experiencing this much star formation, it must have gone through many rounds of mergers with other galaxies. And this is also surprising, considering it’s only 1.5 billion years old in the image”

    There is almost unlimited evidence indicating that the universe is much older than the Big Bang Model would allow. I you Google “old galaxies billions light”. You will see many pages of observations of old red, quiet galaxies also at this same as well as middle age and young looking galaxies at these distances.

    Also the density problem is insurmountable. Supposedly the universe is expanding from a more dense past yet all observations at all distances and ages indicate the density of the distant past was the same as the present. How long will it take astronomers and cosmologists to wake up from their long intellectual sleep?

  8. Stephen P says

    “For a galaxy to be experiencing this much star formation, it must have gone through many rounds of mergers with other galaxies. And this is also surprising, considering it’s only 1.5 billion years old…”

    This evidence ought to be a wake-up call to professional astronomers, as it clearly indicates that their distance (and hence age) models for the universe – all of which are based on red shift – are wrong. There cannot have been so many rounds of mergers of galaxies in so short a period.

    The bland statement “the galaxy, known [as] GOODS 850-5, is located about 12 billion light-years from Earth” is purely supposition, based solely on the red shift in its light. If the assumptions for red shift are wrong (as they probably are, based on the evidence of GOODS 850-5) then the presumed relationship between distance and age in the Big Bang model is invalidated.

    It has always been theoretically unsound for the Big Bang model to presume that a galaxy “is” 12 billion years old, merely because it appears to be 12 billion light-years distant. That is the theoretical underpinning of the Steady State theory, not of the Big Bang theory: for our galaxy cannot travel at the speed of light or anything like it (and the Big Bang theory does not even suggest that it can), so if the universe has really been expanding for 12 billion years it must have been only a fraction of its present size 6 billion years ago, therefore the light from the galaxy known as GOODS 850-5 (coming towards us at light-speed) would have overtaken us long ago.

    Nor is it clear how it is possible for our galaxy to have travelled a distance of 12 billion light-years from GOODS 850-5 in only 12 billion years, since the recessional velocity of GOODS 850-5 (i.e. the speed at which it is moving away from us) is less than the speed of light.

    Increasingly, the Big Bang model is seen to be unsatisfactory. There are too many anomolies in it. If its presumption that red-shift describes both the distance and age of external galaxies is invalid, then the entire model is invalid. Red shift might be satisfactory as a yardstick over short distances perhaps, say within the local group of galaxies, but it appears not to be valid at greater distances.

    And the model makes no allowance for the closed nature of the universe, within which the gravitational forces generated by the mass of the universe must be having an effect on light, just as it does on matter. The presumption underlying the model is that light travels in a straight line – something that we know, courtesy of gravitational lensing, is not always the case. But the model fails to allow for this.

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