9.8 billion light years from us lies an impressively massive galaxy cluster recently discovered by astronomers.
This rare discovery holds an even more interesting finding. At the heart of the galaxy cluster there is one galaxy that emits bright light and creates 800 stars yearly. That is an incredible number considering that in the Milky Way there is an average number of two new stars enriching the galaxy every year.
First spotted by the Spitzer Telescope, the massive galaxy cluster was further observed by a scientific consortium with the help of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Seen through these lens, the gigantic cluster was found to grow massively as it feeds off gas from other surrounding galaxies.
It rarely happens that a discovery of these proportions is made. It took 9.8 billion years for the light of these galaxies to reach us. The galaxy cluster, coined SpARCS1049+56, differs greatly from what astronomers have observed so far.
The Milky Way also resides within the Local Group galaxy cluster, which is part of the Laniakea galaxy supercluster. Typically the galaxies residing at the centers of such clusters are composed of stellar fossils – dead, red or older stars.
One of the lead researchers on the study of the supercluster, Tracy Webb of the McGill University, Canada, stated:
“We think the giant galaxy at the center of this cluster is furiously making new stars after merging with a smaller galaxy”.
Following observations made with the Hubble Space Telescope, the research team found that the SpARCS1049+56 massive galaxy cluster is composed of 27 galaxies. The mass of the supercluster equals that of 400 trillions Suns. And most exciting of all, the galaxy at the center of the supercluster is spawning 800 stars every year.
While the Spitzer Telescope detected the warm glow of the starbirth regions, follow-up investigations with the Hubble Space Telescope shed more light on the fuel that helps star formation at such an incredible rate, particularly in a galaxy found at such a distance.
According to the researchers, the galaxy at the center of the supercluster is a result of two galaxies merging. A smaller galaxy merged with the larger, more visible one and lend its gas for the larger galaxy to feed on. As a result, a furious starbirth episode is taking place at the very center of the massive galaxy cluster.
The exciting new finding will be detailed in a study featuring in the Astrophysical Journal.
Photo Credits: Livemint