Researchers from The University of Western Australia, location of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) have established that star-forming galaxies are not spiral in form but clumpy as a result of low spin, and not high gas content as was earlier thought.
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Lead researcher Dr. Danail Obreschkow disclosed that clumpy galaxies must have filled up our universe nearly 10 billion years ago, but these evolved into the spiral shapes that we have today, while a few others remained clumpy and irregular.
Dr. Obreschkow revealed that our 5-billion-year-old sun and most of the stars that can be seen in the sky formed from within the irregular galaxies billions of years ago.
“The clumpy galaxies produce stars at phenomenal rates,” he said. “A new star pops up about once a week, whereas spiral galaxies like our Milky Way only form about one new star a year.”
Termed the DYNAMO galaxies by the team of Australian researchers made up of ICRAR scientists and those from Swinburne University of Technology, the groups of clump galaxies were believed to have formed at about 500 million years ago.
“We see that galaxy the way it probably looks now… something could have happened to it but it’s very unlikely,” Dr. Obreschkow said. “The galaxies that are 10 billion light years away, that’s comparable to a picture from when you were three or four years old, that’s very different.”
The team of researchers employed the Gemini and Keck observatories located in Hawaii to calculate the spin of the galaxies, coupled with millimeter and radio telescopes to determine the level of gas within the galaxies.
The researchers noted that it is true there is a lot of spin in our Milky Way, but then the galaxies they studied within the system all have a low spin.
Professor of astronomy at Swinburne University, Karl Glazebrook, praised the efforts of the entire team and said their finding was fascinating since revolution of galaxies was first confirmed a century ago.
“Today we are still revealing the important role that the spin of the initial cloud of gas plays in galaxy formation,” Professor Glazebrook said. “This novel result suggests that spin is fundamental to explaining why early galaxies are gas-rich and lumpy while modern galaxies display beautiful symmetric patterns.”
The researchers published their finding in The Astrophysical Journal.