Galaxy Clusters Discovered to Help Find How Cosmic Structures Form

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Astronomers have discovered what they calling a “treasure chest” of ancient galaxies clusters that have been unknown until just recently. A group of researchers using the European Space Agency’s (ESA) highly-advanced telescopes have identified the galaxy clusters that could shed more light into the mysteries of how cosmic structures were created and how they appear and act today.

In a new study published in the most recent issue of the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, astronomers studied high-redshift objects with spectral energy distributions of warm gas and dust. Redshift happens when electromagnetic radiation or light (photon distribution) increases in wavelength, which is shifted to the red end of the spectrum. This characteristic of astrophysics deals with cosmic background radiation and give astronomers information regarding the expansion of the Universe.

Finding these massive and distant individual galaxy clusters details the path researchers are going down to find the origin of star formation. Hervé Dole, lead author of the study, stated, “Finding so many intensely star-forming, dust galaxies in such concentrated groups was a huge surprise.” In years past, less powerful space telescopes have been unable to see beyond gas clouds and have been blinded by cosmic background noise. Though, by using the Planck telescope, astronomers have the ability to get a clearer picture of structures that are integral to what Dole believes is one of the missing pieces of galactic structure formation.

When galaxy clusters form, their gravity triggers the formation of new stars by grabbing dense groups of hot gases around a singular point of gravity. Moreover, dark matter, the anti-particle counterpart to visible and detectable matter, that is also hypothesized to make up most of the Universe, accounts for a large portion of the mass and gravitational influence of each galaxy cluster. Even though astronomers have known this information for years, the way in which galaxy clusters form and grow to immense size has been unknown. Therefore, they utilized the Planck telescope to find a few of the most distant galaxies that exist in the observable Universe – nearly 11 billion years old.

Dole said he and his team still have much to determine and analyze about this newly-discovered group of galaxy clusters, he stated in a release published by the ESA. He explained that small hints of galaxy clusters have been found previous to this discovery, though the Planck telescope has unearthed many more galaxy clusters that are much older that astronomers have found before that they can now study. By finding these they have the ability to peer into the long-forgotten past and possibly deduce how structures in the Universe were birthed.

Astronomers are just barely scraping the surface on finding out how these newly-discovered galaxy clusters influence the formation of cosmic structures, said Dole. Previously, astronomers were baffled by the formation of structures in the Universe, saying that they, “seem to be forming simultaneously.” Discovering the way which cosmic structures are created will allow for a better understanding of how all bodies in the Universe came to be, and possibly how they will come to an end in the distant future.

By Alex Lemieux


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Photo by Luis Argerich – Flickr License