ALMA has spotted relics in outer space of the oldest galaxies in the early universe. It has changed the current view we hold about the genesis of the clusters of galaxies in the universe we inhabit.
A tool of observation known as ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array) has been employed to scan out the far off clouds of gaseous matter. This is the stuff of star formation and it lends clues into the creation of the oldest galaxies in the early stages of the universe.
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By the way, this happens to be the only time in our history when these galaxies of the far off pavilions have been observed on a consistent basis.
In the post-haste days after the Big Bang, hydrogen gas was in plentiful supply. And it was a foggy atmosphere that prevailed in space. However, with the passage of time, other heavenly bodies that had large black holes at their very source began clarifying the spacial debris.
It was like a vacuum cleaner had sucked up the remaining garbage of the universal flotsam and jetsam. It was a state of ionization. And the earliest galaxies appeared in the telescope lens as indistinct smears. But now with the ALMA as an instrument of discovery new information has come up that has changed the game altogether.
A group of astronomers have found out via ALMA that ancient galaxies that are more than 800 million years old have some embers left in them. They were not expecting this. What they thought they would observe was faint blobs of energy.
But instead signals from one side of the object labeled BDF 3299 were coming a little too clearly. This is of great importance since the oldest galaxies are now objects of observation rather than just flickers on the screen. The structure of these galaxies is now going to be common knowledge thanks in no small part to ALMA.
The decent red glow detected by ALMA shows that the central clouds are being disturbed by the gaseous state of star formation. Using simulation and other heuristics, astronomers will be able to calculate the galactogenesis process during the early days of the universe as observed from our vantage point a billion years after the fact.
Co-author Andrea Ferrara (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy) explains the significance of the new findings: “This is the most distant detection ever of this kind of emission from a ‘normal’ galaxy, seen less than one billion years after the Big Bang. It gives us the opportunity to watch the build-up of the first galaxies. For the first time we are seeing early galaxies not merely as tiny blobs, but as objects with internal structure!”
The survival of these traces of the nascent universe and its baby galaxies is an astronomer’s dream come true. Many problems will be resolved once the answers start coming with further research and development in this field of endeavor.
“We have been trying to understand the interstellar medium and the formation of the reionisation sources for many years. Finally to be able to test predictions and hypotheses on real data from ALMA is an exciting moment and opens up a new set of questions.This type of observation will clarify many of the thorny problems we have with the formation of the first stars and galaxies in the Universe,” adds Andrea Ferrara.
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Roberto Maiolino concludes: “This study would have simply been impossible without ALMA, as no other instrument could reach the sensitivity and spatial resolution required. Although this is one of the deepest ALMA observations so far it is still far from achieving its ultimate capabilities. In future ALMA will image the fine structure of primordial galaxies and trace in detail the build-up of the very first galaxies.”