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Some of the universe's oldest galaxies appear to be going through the cosmic equivalent of a mid-life crisis, surrounding themselves with immense ultraviolet halos. These highly energetic rings of light make galaxies look young again, and astronomers are totally baffled.
We haven't seen anything quite like these rings before. These beautiful and very unusual objects might be telling us something very important about the evolution of galaxies.iopscience.iop.org...
"In a galaxy's lifetime, it must make the transition from an active, star-forming galaxy to a quiescent galaxy that does not form stars," Samir Salim, an astronomer at Indiana University in Bloomington said. "But it is possible this process goes the other way, too, and that old galaxies can be rejuvenated."
While young and lively galaxies have bluish hues from their active stars, older galaxies emit reddish collective starlight, researchers say. The reddish trait in ancient galaxies allowed scientists to peg the ages of most of their stars at around 10 billion years old.
Researchers have yet to explain how some of these galaxies received the infusion of fresh, cold gas that would produce the ultraviolet light halos.