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“Considering their extreme distance from Earth and the frenetic star-forming activity inside each, it’s possible we may be witnessing the most intense galaxy merger known to date.”
Astronomers first detected this system with the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory. It appeared as a single red dot in the telescope’s survey of the southern sky. These initial observations suggested that the apparently faint object was in fact both extremely bright and extremely distant. Follow-up observations with the Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX) telescope confirmed these initial interpretations and paved the way for the more detailed ALMA observations.
With its higher resolution and greater sensitivity, ALMA precisely measured the distance to this object and revealed that it was in fact two distinct galaxies. The pairing of otherwise phenomenally rare galaxies suggests that they reside within a particularly dense region of the universe at that period in its history, the astronomers said.
The new ALMA observations also indicate that the ADFS-27 system has approximately 50 times the amount of star-forming gas as the Milky Way. “Much of this gas will be converted into new stars very quickly,” said Riechers. “Our current observations indicate that these two galaxies are indeed producing stars at a breakneck pace, about one thousand times faster than our home galaxy.”
The galaxies — which would appear as flat, rotating disks — are brimming with extremely bright and massive blue stars. Most of this intense starlight, however, never makes it out of the galaxies themselves; there is simply too much obscuring interstellar dust in each
The new observations also indicate that the two galaxies are about 30,000 light-years apart, moving at roughly several hundred kilometers per second relative to each other. As they continue to interact gravitationally, each galaxy will eventually slow and fall toward the other, likely leading to several more close encounters before merging into one massive, elliptical galaxy. The astronomers expect this process to take a few hundred million years.
“Due to their great distance and dustiness, these galaxies remain completely undetected at visible wavelengths,” noted Riechers. “Eventually, we hope to combine the exquisite ALMA data with future infrared observations with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. These two telescopes will form an astronomer’s ‘dream team’ to better understand the nature of this and other such exceptionally rare, extreme systems.”
What seemed at first like a rare instance of a huge, ancient galaxy revealed itself to be an even rarer pair of extremely massive galaxies, seen on the brink of merging when the Universe was only a billion years old.
originally posted by: gortex
a reply to: looneylupinsrevenge
To say what we can see now is the definitive age of the universe is very short sighted indeed.
I don't think anyone is saying that but 14 billion light years (ish) is what we know , we can't speak of what we don't know.
originally posted by: 0bserver1
a reply to: penroc3
But , I wonder if the stars we see will actually be in that same spot of our skies . Meaning that light bends by gravity so if we would shoot a beam that would go faster than light it might be that particular star wouldn't even be on the spot we see from earth?