Sunday December 17th 2017

Astronomers Identify Early Galaxies

FREE NEWS PRESS – Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Cal-tech) say they have identified some of the early galaxies created within 450 million years after the big bang.

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, Richard Ellis zoomed in on several galaxies created more than 13 billion years ago. Data from Hubble’s Ultra Deep Field (UDF) study in 2012 may have solved a mystery; when re-ionization of hydrogen occurred.

Re-ionization occurs when enough radiation is created to warm the cold hydrogen. Astronomers believed this occurred 200 million years after the big bang. It was not known whether the process was gradual, how long it took, and whether the process was uniform over time.

“Our data confirm re-ionization was a gradual process, occurring over several hundred million years, with galaxies slowly building up their stars and chemical elements,” said Brant Robertson of the University of Arizona in Tucson. “There wasn’t a single dramatic moment when galaxies formed. It was a gradual process.”

The deep-field images are created by opening the aperture of the telescope for long periods of time. Light photons from these very distant – and very old – stars / galaxies hit the sensors signaling a galaxy. Ellis says the long exposures add depth to their measurements. Because of the red-shift they need filters to determine distance.

They may have discovered the oldest galaxy to date. The Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC 3) found a galaxy older than the rest – some 380 million years after the birth of the universe.

These deep field surveys will continue to fill in the holes in our knowledge.

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