Washington: Researchers have confirmed the presence of an unusually distant galaxy cluster, JKCS 041.
The structures and star populations of massive galaxies appear to change as they age, but much about how these galaxies formed and evolved remains mysterious. Many of the oldest and most massive galaxies reside in clusters, enormous structures where numerous galaxies are found concentrated together.
Galaxy clusters in the early universe are thought to be key to understanding the lifecycles of old galaxies, but to date astronomers have located only a handful of these rare, distant structures.
New research from a team led by Carnegie`s Andrew Newman has confirmed the presence of an unusually distant galaxy cluster, JKCS 041.
Although the team began studying JKCS 041 in 2006, it has taken years of observing with many of the world`s most powerful telescopes to finally confirm its distance.
The team used the Hubble Space Telescope to capture sharp images of the distant cluster and split the starlight from the galaxies into its constituent colors, a technique known as spectroscopy. They found 19 galaxies at precisely the same great distance of 9.9 billion light-years, the telltale sign of an early galaxy cluster.
"Because JKCS 041 is the most-distant known cluster of its size, it gives us a unique opportunity to study these old galaxies in detail and better understand their origins," Newman said.
The study has been published by The Astrophysical Journal .