A statement issued by the European Southern Observatory announced that a research team affiliated with it was able, by using the matrix of the Atacama Millimeter / Sub-Millimeter Large Observatory (ALMA), to take pictures of a galaxy that begins its first stage of death, which is the first precedent of its kind in this the range.
The death of galaxies!
According to the study, which the team published in the journal Nature Astronomy on January 11th, the term “galaxy death” means, from a scientific point of view, the period during which it stops forming new stars.
Thanks to the extreme accuracy of the “Alma” telescope, which is an array of about 70 radio telescopes located in the Atacama desert in northern Chile, this team was able to observe a galaxy called ID2299, which is about 9 billion light years away from us, while losing its components of gas and dust at tremendous rates. Equal to losing 10,000 suns every year!
New stars form inside these clouds of gas and dust inside galaxies, which are usually rich in hydrogen, so stars burn to produce light and heat. About 4.5 billion years ago, the Sun formed in similar clouds.
An epic encounter and an unknown future
According to the new study, this comes in a truly violent cosmic context, as this galaxy was just formed (by astronomical standards) through the fusion of two galaxies, which speeds up the rates of formation of new stars in it, meaning that hydrogen is consumed in gas and dust clouds at greater rates.
And because the galaxy has already lost about half of its components from those clouds, this means that this galaxy is already on its way to death after it finishes producing new stars, and the study indicates that this may happen within tens of millions of years, the period that is – by astronomical standards – very short. .
On the other hand, this detection indicates a new hypothesis that opposes a popular hypothesis in the research community that the death of galaxies occurs due to strong stellar winds emerging from the stars in the process of emergence, and the effects of the black hole in the center of the galaxy, which pushes gas and dust away from it gradually, until You lose it completely.
Where the new study indicates that the loss of huge amounts of gas and dust from the galaxy to the surrounding space was related to the process of merging the two galaxies together.
Researchers of the European Southern Observatory hope that these results will help in developing our understanding of the future of our galaxy. We know that it is on the verge of an epic collision with its neighbor “Andromeda” within 4-5 billion years from now, it is a long time indeed!