Baby boom galaxy

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The green and red splotch in this image is the most active star-making galaxy in the very distant universe. The galaxy is churning out up to 4,000 stars per year. It was spotted 12.3 billion light-years away by a suite of telescopes, including NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Baby Boom is a type of galaxy called a starburst. Like some other starbursts, it is thought to be a collection of colliding galaxies. As the galaxies smash together, gas becomes compressed, triggering the birth of stars. In this multi-wavelength portrait, the color red shows where loads of new stars are forming in Baby Boom, and where warm dust heated by the stars is giving off infrared light. Green (visible-light wavelengths) denotes gas in the Baby Boom galaxy, while blue (also visible light) shows galaxies in the foreground that are not producing nearly as many stars. Yellow/orange (near-infrared light) indicates starlight from the outer portion of Baby Boom. The red blob to the left is another foreground galaxy that is not producing a lot of stars. This composite contains data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer and Japan's Subaru Telescope in Hawaii.

The Baby boom galaxy is a starburst galaxy 12.2 billion light years away.[1] It was discovered by NASA's Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology. The galaxy is the new record holder for the brightest starburst galaxy in the very distant universe, its brightness being a measure of its extreme star-formation rate.[2]

The Baby boom galaxy has been called "the extreme stellar machine" because it is seen producing stars at a surprising rate of up to 4,000 per year. Our Milky Way galaxy turns out an average of just 10 stars per year.[1]

At its rate, the galaxy needs only 50 million years to grow into an equivalent of the most massive galaxy ever observed.[3]

The discovery challenges the accepted model for galaxy formation, which has most galaxies slowly bulking up by absorbing pieces of other galaxies, rather than growing internally.[4] Another unusual aspect is the fact that scientists are observing this galaxy at a time when the universe was only a little over 1.4 billion years old. Evidently, the galaxy was doing this when the universe was still in its infancy.[2]

"This galaxy is undergoing a major baby boom, producing most of its stars all at once", said Peter Capak of NASA's Spitzer Science Center.[1] To that, the principal investigator of the Cosmic Evolution Surveyor, Nick Scoville of Caltech responded: "We may be witnessing, for the first time, the formation of one of the most massive elliptical galaxies in the universe".[3]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Press Release, NASA (July 10, 2008). "Rare 'star-making machine' found in distant universe". Archived from the original on 2008-07-28. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Plait, Phil (2008). ""Baby Boom" galaxy cranks out cranky booming babies". Discover Magazine. Archived from the original on 1 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Staff (2008). "Cosmic baby boom baffles astronomers". Archived from the original on 7 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
  4. Mirsky, Steve (2008). "Baby boom galaxy churning out stars". Scientific American. Archived from the original on 16 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-08.