General, Research, Technology

Distant galaxies reveal the secret of the formation of stars in the universe

Have you ever heard of an era with incrediblethe beautiful name “cosmic noon”? It is believed that from 8 to 11 billion years ago, the first stars formed in this era. Today we do not know much about these amazing processes, and to find out more, you need to look into the past of the Universe, whose age totals about 13.7 billion years. Fortunately, thanks to scientific and technological progress today we have such an opportunity. Recently, an international team of astronomers with the help of the radio telescope of the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) MeerKAT discovered distant galaxies similar to the Milky Way. Astronomers believe that these galaxies are responsible for most of the star formation in the universe. The work will be published in The Astrophysical Journal. The study can be found on the ArXiv preprint service.

The new radio image is dotted, each ofwhich represents a distant galaxy. Numerous dim points filling the sky are distant galaxies similar to the Milky Way, which we see for the first time

According to the SARAO website, astronomers hadit is not easy to study the faint light of the cosmic noon era. Optical telescopes can see light from very distant galaxies, but new stars are largely hidden from us in dusty gas clouds. Radio telescopes can see through dust and observe rare bright star galaxies, but so far have not been sensitive enough to detect signals from distant galaxies. Fortunately, the MeerKat radio telescope was able to view distant galaxies resembling the Milky Way.

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The team used 64 plates of a radio telescopeMeerKAT to monitor the selected area, which lasted a total of 130 hours. The resulting image shows an area of ​​the sky that is comparable in area to five full moons containing tens of thousands of galaxies. As radio waves travel at the speed of light, this image is a time machine that has been exploring star formation in distant galaxies for billions of years. Note that only stars whose life cycle is less than 30 million years emit radio waves, so researchers were able to conclude that there are a lot of old stars in the image. Therefore, the radio light that we see from each galaxy is proportional to its star formation rate at this point in time.

The MeerKat radio telescope peers into the starry sky. Astronomers want to use the image to learn more about star formation in the entire universe.

Thanks to the results, it became knownthat the rate of star formation near space noon is even higher than originally thought. In the past, scientists could only fix the tip of the iceberg — rare and luminous galaxies that produced only a small fraction of the stars in the universe. Now we see the full picture: the dim dots in the image are the galaxies that formed most of the stars.

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Experts note that over the past fewOver the years, technology has developed to such an extent that the creation of telescopes such as MeerKat has become possible. Their computing power allows researchers to get a real idea of ​​how the Universe became the way it is. Thus, we can safely assume that the next generation of telescopes will be even more impressive.

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