Glistening galaxies tend to cluster in busiest parts of universe

May 21st, 2010 - 2:50 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 20 (ANI): Glistening galaxies preferentially occupy regions of the universe containing more dark matter, astronomers have found.

Using a super-sensitive camera/spectrometer on the Herschel SpaceObservatory, astronomers, including a UC Irvine team led by AsanthaCooray, have mapped the skies as they appeared 10 billion years ago.

The UCI scientists found that these glistening galaxies preferentially occupy regions of the universe containing more dark matter and that collisions probably caused the abundant star production.

Cooray, associate professor and Chancellor’s Fellow in physics & astronomy, said: “Thanks to the superb resolution and sensitivity of the SPIRE [Spectral & Photometric Imaging Receiver] instrument on Herschel, we managed to map in detail the spatial distribution of massively star-forming galaxies in the early universe.

“All indications are that these galaxies are…crashing, merging, and possibly settling down at centers of large dark-matter halos.”

This information will enable scientists to adapt conventional theories of galaxy formation to accommodate the strange, star-filled versions.

The European Space Agency’s Herschel observatory carries the largest astronomical telescope operating in space today; it collects data at far-infrared wavelengths invisible to the naked eye.

One of three cameras on Herschel, SPIRE has let Cooray and colleagues survey large areas of the sky - about 60 times the size of the full Moon - in the constellations of Ursa Major and Draco.

The data analysed in this study was among the first to come from the Herschel Multi-Tiered Extragalactic Survey, the space observatory’s largest project. UCI is one of only four U.S. educational institutions involved in Herschel using the SPIRE instrument.

Seb Oliver, a University of Sussex professor who leads the survey, said: “It’s just the kind of thing we were hoping for from Herschel…and was only possible because we can see so many thousands of galaxies. It will certainly give the theoreticians something to chew over.”

The study will be published in a special issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics dedicated to the first scientific results from Herschel. (ANI)

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