A T N F    D a i l y    A s t r o n o m y    P i c t u r e

5th of December 2016
ATCA opens up a new window on the molecular Universe
by Bjorn Emonts (Center for Astrobiology, Madrid)
Using the Australia Telescope Compact Array, an international team of astronomers has discovered that the largest galaxies in the Universe can condense out of cosmic clouds of very cold gas early in their formation. This is in contrast with our knowledge on giant galaxies seen around us today, which grow mostly by cannibalizing smaller galaxies. Their discovery is published in the Dec 2nd issue of the journal Science. The astronomers used the ATCA and VLA to study the distant `Spiderweb Galaxy', which is a giant galaxy in formation in the heart of an embryonic galaxy-cluster, 10 billion light-years away. To their surprise, the ATCA revealed that the Spiderweb is wallowing in a huge cloud of cold molecular gas, detected in carbon-monoxide (CO). There is enough molecular material in the gas cloud to fuel the formation of up to 100 billion new stars - a process that already appeared to have started. The new finding therefore suggests that the Spiderweb is condensing directly out of this cosmic gas cloud, which sheds a new light on how the largest galaxies in the Universe were created. Interestingly, detecting such very widespread reservoirs of cold molecular gas in the Early Universe is exactly what the ATCA excels at. The ultra-compact array configurations of the ATCA make it perhaps the best instrument in the world to study the true molecular gas content of the Early Universe.

"Molecular Gas in the Halo Fuels the Growth of a Massive Cluster Galaxy at High Redshift", by Bjorn Emonts, M. Lehnert, M. Villar-Martin, Ray Norris, Ron Ekers, G. van Moorsel, H. Dannerbauer, L. Pentericci, G. Miley, James Allison, Elaine Sadler, P. Guillard, C. Carilli, Minnie Mao, H. Rottgering, C. De Breuck, Nick Seymour, B. Gullberg, D. Ceverino, P. Jagannathan, J. Vernet and Balthasar Indermuehle. Science, DOI:10.1126/science.aag0512

<<   |   archive   |   about   |   today   *   ATNF   |   Parkes   |   ATCA   |   Mopra   |   VLBI   |   ASKAP   |   >>