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Early Universe Had Burst of Star Formation

Article written: 1 Apr , 2008
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
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Just as humans develop and grow the fastest when we are young, it also appears our universe grew and developed stars at an incredibly fast rate when it was young, too. New measurements from some of the most distant galaxies helps support evidence that the strongest burst of star formation in the history of the universe occurred about two billion years after the Big Bang. An international team of astronomers from the UK, France, Germany and the USA have found evidence for a dramatic surge in star birth in a newly discovered population of massive galaxies. The astronomers have been studying five specific galaxies that are forming stars at an incredible rate. The galaxies also have large reservoirs of gas to power star formation for hundreds of millions of years. These galaxies are so distant that the light we detect from them has been travelling for more than 10 billion years, meaning we see them as they were about a three billion years after the Big Bang.

The recent discovery of a new type of extremely luminous galaxy during this early epoch of the universe – one that is very faint in visible light, but much brighter at longer, radio wavelengths – is the key to the new results. Using a new and much more sensitive camera that detects radiation emitted at sub-millimeter wavelengths (longer than the wavelengths of visible light that we see with but somewhat shorter than radio waves), astronomers first found this type of galaxy in 1997. In 2004 a group of astronomers proposed that these distant “submillimetre-galaxies” might only represent half of the picture of rapid star formation in the early Universe. They suggested that a population of similar galaxies with slightly hotter temperatures could exist but have gone largely unnoticed.

The team of scientists searched for the missing galaxies using observatories around the world: the MERLIN array in the UK, the Very Large Array (VLA) in the US (both radio observatories), the Keck optical telescope on Hawaii and the Plateau de Bure submillimetre observatory in France. The instruments found and pinpointed the galaxies, measured their distances and then confirmed their star-forming nature through the detection of the vastly extended gas and dust.

Click here for more images and a movie of the Sub-millimeter Star Forming Galaxies.

The new galaxies have extremely high rates of star formation, far higher than anything seen in the present-day universe. They probably developed after the first stars and galaxies had already formed in what would have been a perfectly smooth Universe. Studying these new objects gives astronomers an insight into the earliest epochs of star formation after the Big Bang.

This information was presented by Dr. Scott Chapman from the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge at the Royal Astronomy Society’s National Astronomy Meeting on April 1, 2008. Chapman’s work is supported by a parallel study made by PhD student Caitlin Casey.

Original News Source: Royal Astronomy Society Press Release


4 Responses

  1. Yael Dragwyla says

    “The new galaxies have extremely high rates of star formation, far higher than anything seen in the present-day universe. They probably developed after the first stars and galaxies had already formed in what would have been a perfectly smooth Universe. Studying these new objects gives astronomers an insight into the earliest epochs of star formation after the Big Bang.” That needs some qualification. “Perfectly smooth” until *when*? Also, given the presence of vast amounts of gas and dust in the early universe at the time the first stars came into existence, those masses would probably not have been perfectly randomly distributed, so that the universe would *not* have been perfectly smooth up until then. That needs some qualification, too.

  2. Vanamonde says

    This is further confirmation of the Big Bang Theory, together with the Hubble Red Shift and the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. A scientific theory must be tested and must have evidence and here is some more! This is no hypothesis, no speculation, this is a scientific theory!

  3. Alphonso Richardson says

    Re: Vanamonde
    I’m not quite sure what you mean; your statement seems a bit confusing. Besides the term ‘Big Bang’ is actually a bit of a misnomer

  4. Freddy says

    Too much contradictions, not only in this statement. Therefor maybe time for a more explaning theory.

    Imagine a heart, not one like ours, but one as you draw when you express love. You have it before you as on a picture. Now you let it rotate round it Y-ax (ax through the 2 points) and you get it 3D. Still you can get it easely project it in your mind. If you let it now rotate it round its X-ax (perpendicular to the Y ax and going through the intersection) you have a 4D heart (probably more difficult to see it for you).
    Characteristicly for this form is :
    – it has a inner empty part
    – a 4D surface now that can be determined in 3D (see further) of varying thickness
    – an empty outer part
    Coming back to point 2 : Our 3D heart has a 3D surface. However each position on it can be determined using 2 coordinates (same like earth) . Only in whatever direction you go you always arrives at your starting point. That is the same with our 4D form.
    That 4D surface is one side of our universe.
    Matter lays on it (let say the outer side of that surface) and for some unknown reason (untill now) that matter is attracted to the other side and so deformes (dent) that field (surface). That deformation is already common acceptance in the astro-physic world.

    So why taking a heart as form.
    Going back to our projection of our projection of our 4Dheart, we have our 2D heart, we easely can draw on a paper. The remain of our 4D surface is that line.
    As matter seems to want to go to the center of the object when it find itself on the outside, all matter will slide towards the point that is directed to the inside. Matter finding itself in the inside act in reverse, that matter will slide to the point that is directed to the outside.
    Matter deforms the gravitational field (that surface) as well known elastically. The more matter the more deformation (indentation). So in the outer points (matter collecting point on both sides of the field) may be the concentration of matter becomes from time to time so high that a plastic deformation is get in the field.
    Then during a fraction of time an amount (probably an incredible amount) of matter passes the field to the other side. That passing reverses the characterestics of the matter.
    Once appeared on the other side of the field, the transformed matter wants again penetrated the field. However that matter find itself on what we can call the top of a mountain of the field, mountain formed by the indentation of the matter on the other side.
    The new matter appear like a burst out and swarms out in all directions with an incredible acceleration (like water streaming from a top of a mountain). That acceleration will decrease in time but never stop but in fact once passed half the traject the acceleration will increase again (due to the attraction of what we can call the super giant black hole in the pointed pit).
    So that is a very short summary of what our universe really is.
    A few of the consequences:
    – The influence of what we now call the black matter is simply the effect of the matter on the other side of the field. Of course we cann’t see it.
    – If we take a close look we indeed see the universe expanding at an accelerating speed.
    – The influence of the so called black matter will be at its minimum nearby the giant black holes and maximal between some galaxies.
    – So it is possible to see galaxies of 10 billion years old , where we now suppose the universe would be 4 billion years old.
    – Out of the balance between the influence of the visible matter and its opponent, we can position our place on the traject of the universe eveolution.
    – Seen from our point (that is true for every point in the universe), the universe seems to expand away from us in all directions and at an accelerating speed.
    – …..
    So, that is it in a very, very short explanation.

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