A giant cluster of galaxies in the early Universe

A giant cluster of galaxies located 12 billion light-years away from us has been studied with the help of orbital telescopes. It turned out that the rate of star formation in it is the same as that of galaxies close to the Milky Way.

Laniakea is our native supercluster. Source: Forbes

Galaxy Cluster SPT2349-56

Scientists working with the Gemini, Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have recently investigated the SPT2349-56 supercluster. The light from it has been coming to us for more than 12 billion years. That is, we see it as it was a few hundred million years after the formation of the Universe. 

SPT2349-56 contains more than 30 galaxies that are bright in the submillimeter range, and several dozen more that are confirmed, but not so bright in it. The cluster contains some of the largest star formation zones known to humans. A significant part of them account for 20 star systems undergoing a merger.

At least 10 thousand new stars are born in the cluster every year. However, the mass of the system was still unknown. Because of this, it was difficult to say if such a number of new luminaries is due only to a large scale or if these processes are extremely active in SPT2349-56.

What was the rate of star formation in the young Universe

In order to determine the mass of the cluster, astronomers resorted to analyzing the spectral distribution. That is, they found out which frequencies account for most of the radiated energy. Data on these optical and near-infrared parameters were received from Gemini and Hubble telescopes. Data on far infrared light was provided by the Spitzer IRAC camera.

The task of analyzing such a complex data set was quite difficult. How scientists solved it can be read in an article in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. In the end, they came to the conclusion that the relative rate of star formation in SPT2349-56 was the same as in our Local Group.

A giant cluster of galaxies is just a dot in the center of this image. Source: NASA/ESA/Herschel; Miller et al.

However, the researchers noticed a relatively small amount of intergalactic gas in the cluster. This means that the outbreak of observed star formation may soon cease. 

Another page in the history of the Universe

The study of a young supercluster is very important for understanding the evolution of the universe. We are well aware of its modern structure, consisting of clusters of galaxies forming filaments, nodes and voids between them. An example of this could be our native Laniakea supercluster.

It is also known from X-ray studies that the relic background has anomalies. This means that at the earliest stages of the universe’s life, inhomogeneities were already present in it. It is believed that it was from them that the current fibrous structure was formed.

Irregularities in the relic radiation

The galaxies that make up SPT2349-56 are far from the first to form in the universe. However, only a few hundred million years separate them from the end of the era of reionization, when the universe finally became transparent. Therefore, information about how the structures they have already formed look is very interesting.

According to Рhys.org

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