The intriguing discovery of a new galaxy 11.7 billion light-years from Earth comes from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).
The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array is a collection of 66 radio telescope antennas that operate with high precision and are located in the Atacama Desert of Chile.
The astronomers working on the ALMA’s Long Baseline Campaign have used the radio telescope antennas’ high-precision gravitational lens to find that 11.7 billion light-years from our planet lays an intriguing and enormous previously unknown galaxy. The Session Description Protocol .81 (SDP.81) as the galaxy was named for now is in the Hydra Constellation.
Possibly, the unique advantages offered by the location as well as by the gravitational lens of ALMA merged to bring about the most spectacular finding of a new galaxy.
ALMA’s location in the Atacama desert, Chile offers astronomers perfect conditions for the collection of impressive data amounts. The stable atmosphere and weather conditions make for perfect spotting of new stellar bodies or galaxies for that matter.
Gravitational lens, an excellent astronomical tool spawned from Albert Einstein’s relativity theory works by making use of the field of gravitation of a closer galaxy to tweak the light of a more distant one. A telescope works on a similar basis.
The team at ALMA Observatory created a model that was constantly adjusted to reveal the enormous SDP.81. Created by Yoichi Tamura in collaboration with Masamune Oguri, both University of Tokyo assistant professors, the model not only revealed the galaxy. It also showed astronomers that at the center of the newly revealed galaxy there is a massive black hole.
Huge stellar cradles feature among placed in the galaxy feature among the exciting findings as well. This is indicative of the fact that SDP.81 is the birthplace of stars created at hundreds of times the rate that was observed in our own Milky Way.
Also, gravitational lensing allowed the observers to find that as much as 5000 light-years around the galaxy humongous dust clouds, ranging from 200 to 500 light-years in distance are being placed in an elliptic model.
Todd Hunter, part of the ALMA observatory team and author of one of seven papers detailing the findings talks about the discovery in an exciting manner for the field:
“This one data set has spawned an entire series of highly intriguing research, confirming that ALMA offers the astronomical community new avenues to probe the distant universe”.
Compared to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope which beams the images in infrared light, ALMA works as an interferometer. Similar to a digital telescope composed of 66 radio telescope antennas, ALMA beams images that are six times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope images.
So far, out of the seven papers that were written, four have been accepted for publishing and one is already available for enthusiasts in the Astronomical Society of Japan’s journal, Publications.
Image Source: universityherald.com