- When the universe was about 3 billion years old, the cold hydrogen gas needed to form stars was exhausted
- It is considered the ‘most prolific period of star birth’ in the history of the universe.
- Scientists aren’t sure why they ran out of cold hydrogen 11 billion years ago, leading them to speculate
- This discovery was made by Hubble in conjunction with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which celebrated its 31st anniversary earlier this year, has found six dead galaxies in deep space in a remarkable discovery.
According to one, galaxies were exhausted from the cold hydrogen gas needed to form stars when the universe was about 3 billion years old, which is considered ‘the most prolific period of star birth in its history’. Statement from the US Space Agency.
The six galaxies are known as MRG-M1341, MRG-M0138, MRG-M2129, MRG-M0150, MRG-M0454 and MRG-M1423.
The six dead galaxies are about 11 billion light years away in deep space. The six galaxies are known as MRG-M1341 (pictured top left and right), MRG-M0138, MRG-M2129 (pictured bottom left and right), MRG-M0150, MRG-M0454 and MRG-M1423.
The discovery was made by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (pictured) in conjunction with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile.
The discovery was made in conjunction with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile.
‘At this point in our universe, all galaxies should be forming a lot of stars. This is the peak age of star formation,’ Kate Whitaker of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst assistant professor of astronomy and lead author of the study, said in the statement.
‘So what happened to all the cold gas in these galaxies so quickly?’
For now, scientists aren’t sure why the gas in the galaxies ended 11 billion years ago, leaving them to speculate.
‘Did a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy start and heat up all the gas? If so, the gas may still be there, but it’s hot now,’ Whitaker said.
‘Or it could have been expelled and is now being prevented from accumulating back into the galaxy.’
Whitaker continued: ‘Or did the galaxy make full use of it, and the supply ran out? These are some open questions that we will continue to explore with new comments along the way.’
What is Gravitational Lensing?
Gravitational lensing occurs when a massive galaxy or cluster of galaxies bends the light emanating from a more distant galaxy.
This produces a highly magnified, though very distorted image.
This is because massive objects twist the spacetime around them, causing light to travel in a different path.
This theory was first proposed by Einstein in his theory of general relativity.
It is likely that these galaxies will never regenerate, even if other galaxies merge into other smaller nearby galaxies.
By absorbing other galaxies, it ‘puffs’ the dead galaxies and if for some reason, they start forming new stars, it’s akin to ‘a kind of frosting,’ Whitaker said.
Despite their lack of star formation, these galaxies are believed to have grown and evolved.
The galaxies were studied as part of the Resolve QUIEscent Magnified Galaxies in High Redshift (REQUIEM) program, which looks at distant galaxies that appear red.
Whitaker said a technique known as ‘gravitational lensing’ was applied to find the galaxies.
“Using strong gravitational lensing as in a natural telescope, we can find the most distant, most massive and first galaxies to kick off their star formation,” explained Whitaker.
‘I like to think of it as doing science in the 2030s or 40s – with powerful next-generation space telescopes – but today instead combining the capabilities of Hubble and ALMA, which are enhanced by strong lensing.’
This study is published in the Scientific Journal Nature.
70. The universe is widely believed to be about 14 billion years old, based on the Hubble constant of
Based on the Hubble constant of 70, the universe is widely believed to be about 14 billion years old.
In 2019, scientists in a separate study suggested that the Hubble constant is 82.4, which would make the universe about 11.4 billion years old.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is still operating and has made more than 1.3 million observations since the start of its mission in 1990
The Hubble Telescope was launched on April 24, 1990, from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida via spacecraft Discovery.
It is named after the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble who was born in Missouri in 1889.
He is arguably most famous for discovering that the universe is expanding and the rate at which this is happening—now coined the Hubble constant.
The Hubble Telescope is named after famed astronomer Edwin Hubble, who was born in Missouri in 1889 (pictured)
Hubble has made more than 1.3 million observations since the start of its mission in 1990 and helped publish more than 15,000 scientific papers.
It orbits the Earth at a speed of about 17,000mph (27,300kph) in low Earth orbit at an altitude of about 340 miles.
Hubble’s pointing accuracy is .007 arc seconds, which is akin to being able to shine a laser beam focused onto the head of Franklin D. Roosevelt on a dime about 200 miles (320 km) away.
The Hubble Telescope is named after Edwin Hubble who was responsible for coming up with the Hubble constant and is one of the greatest astronomers of all time.
Hubble’s primary mirror is 2.4 m (7 ft, 10.5 in) wide and is 13.3 m (43.5 ft) tall overall – the length of a large school bus.
The launch and deployment of Hubble in April 1990 marked the most significant advance in astronomy since Galileo’s telescope.
Thanks to five servicing missions and more than 25 years of operation, our view of the universe and our place within it has never been the same.