The Hubble Space Telescope discovered a galaxy hidden behind a distant star formation

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers led by the Cosmic Dawn Center in Copenhagen have investigated a galaxy seen nearly 11 billion years ago. (REUTERS via NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb)

Los Astronomers They usually notice Galaxies Thanks to the light emitted by these bright objects made up of billions of stars.

But some galaxies are more difficult to observe because they require a different approach to viewing. Using NASA Hubble Space Telescope, A team of astronomers made a discovery using an unusual technique The elusive galaxy 11 billion years. Instead of observing the light emitted by this zone, they observed the light it absorbs.

Astronomers typically observe galaxies using the light emitted by their stars, just as we see a light bulb by the light it emits. Galaxies emit light waves that can be seen around the world. Electromagnetic spectrumAnd different telescopes can observe these cosmic objects in different wavelengths of light to create a complete picture.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope will officially pass its billion-second science mission in 2022.  (NASA)
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope will officially pass its billion-second science mission in 2022. (NASA)

But there is another way to make observations of this galaxy, as a distant source of bright light, when one galaxy is in the same line of sight as another. when Light passes through a galaxy Towards the foreground galaxy, for example, gas and dust in the foreground galaxy absorb some wavelengths of the background galaxy.

And because Chemical elements absorb light Looking for gaps in the light output (or spectra) of a background source at specific wavelengths can tell astronomers why that light made it to our telescopes. In other words, the light in those “gaps” would have been absorbed by a foreground object on its way to our view.

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A useful background source for this technique is quasars, which are extremely bright galactic hearts powered by supermassive black holes that emit jets of radiation and matter as they eat away at surrounding material.

Composite image of cosmic rocks in the Carina Nebula created with data from the NIRCam and MIRI instruments on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope via REUTERS
Composite image of cosmic rocks in the Carina Nebula created with data from the NIRCam and MIRI instruments on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope via REUTERS

“To find absorbing galaxies, we first look for quasars that are red. Stardust absorbs blue light but not red light, and if there is a dusty foreground galaxy, the quasar will turn red. said in a statement Johann Finnbo, Astronomer at the Cosmic Dawn Center.

By analyzing the light from red quasars, the expert and his team were able to detect several absorbing galaxies, but once this was done, they faced a more challenging task: searching for the light emitted by the absorbing galaxy.

The group’s research has been accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. Meanwhile, a pre-peer-reviewed version is available arXiv Research Repository.

Cosmic Cliffs in the Carina Nebula, observed by NASA (REUTERS).
Cosmic Cliffs in the Carina Nebula, observed by NASA (REUTERS).

When located exactly behind a galaxy, quasars tend to shift Our view of galaxies in the foreground Because they are very intelligent. They essentially drown out the combined light of every star in an entire galaxy.

It’s like trying to detect an absorbing galaxy’s own light emission Spotting a firefly on a lighthouse While on land. Unfortunately, scientists have yet to identify the light coming from the recently discovered 11-billion-year-old absorbing galaxy, but the absorption patterns exhibited by this object are remarkable.

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The 13.8-billion-year-old galaxy, seen when our universe was about 3 billion years old, absorbs more light than other similarly-seen galaxies, meaning it is a mature galaxy like the Milky Way.

A group of five galaxies appear close to each other in the sky: two in the center, one toward the top, one to the upper left, and one toward the bottom are seen in the mosaic or composite of near-infrared data.  James Webb Space Telescope (NASA)
A group of five galaxies appear close to each other in the sky: two in the center, one toward the top, one to the upper left, and one toward the bottom are seen in the mosaic or composite of near-infrared data. James Webb Space Telescope (NASA)

“The features we detect in the missing light tell us about the dust in the foreground galaxy. Indeed, the dust appears to be similar to the dust we see locally in the Milky Way and our neighboring galaxies,” he said in the report. Liz Christensen, Discovery Team Member and Astronomer at Cosmic Dawn Center

The team was also able to determine that the galaxy has a bright counterpart. The team believes that the galaxy, which appears to be forming stars at an extreme rate, is so close to the absorbing galaxy that the two are gravitationally bound. This means that the two galaxies may have formed a group after being observed at some point Galaxies like the Local Group in which the Milky Way is located.

Fynbo intends to revisit this region of space with other instruments, including the Nordic Optical Telescope at La Palma, looking for other members of the galaxy in the hope that the absorbing galaxy may emit its own light. “This makes the study of galaxies even more interesting,” the astronomer concluded.

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