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Newly discovered galaxy puzzles astronomers

Last Updated: Friday, January 17, 2014 - 18:18

Washington: Researchers are puzzled over their new discovery of Himiko, which is an enormous galaxy, with a hot glowing gaseous halo extending over 55,000 light-years.

Himiko is extraordinarily distant, seen at a time approximately 800 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was only 6 percent of its present size and stars and galaxies were just beginning to form.
In search of the answer, Richard Ellis, the Steele Family Professor of Astronomy at Caltech, together with colleagues from the University of Tokyo and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, undertook an exploration of Himiko using the combined resources of the Hubble Space Telescope and the new Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array ( ALMA) in Chile`s Atacama Desert.

The data collected through these observations answered the initial question about the source of energy powering Himiko, but revealed some puzzling data as well.

The Hubble images, receiving optical and ultraviolet light, reveal three stellar clumps covering a space of 20,000 light-years.
Each clump is the size of a typical luminous galaxy dating to the epoch of Himiko. Together, the clumps achieve a prodigious rate of star formation, equivalent to about one hundred solar masses per year.

This is more than sufficient to explain the existence of Himiko and its gaseous halo.

First Published: Friday, January 17, 2014 - 18:18

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