NASA telescopes discover most distant galaxy clusterJanuary 13th, 2011 - 6:22 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, Jan 13 (ANI): NASA telescopes have identified a burgeoning galactic metropolis-the most distant known in the early universe.
The developing cluster, named COSMOS-AzTEC3, was discovered and characterized by multi-wavelength telescopes, including NASA’s Spitzer, Chandra and Hubble space telescopes, and the ground-based W.M. Keck Observatory and Japan’s Subaru Telescope.
“This exciting discovery showcases the exceptional science made possible through collaboration among NASA projects and our international partners,” said Jon Morse, NASA’s Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
Scientists refer to this growing lump of galaxies as a proto-cluster.
COSMOS-AzTEC3 is the most distant massive proto-cluster known, and also one of the youngest, because it is being seen when the universe itself was young. The cluster is roughly 12.6 billion light-years away from Earth.
The astronomers also found that this cluster is buzzing with extreme bursts of star formation and one enormous feeding black hole.
Capak and his colleagues first used the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the United Kingdom’s James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, to search for the black holes and bursts of star formation needed to form the massive galaxies at the centers of modern galaxy cities.
The astronomers then used Hubble and the Subaru telescopes to estimate the distances to these objects, and look for higher densities of galaxies around them. Finally, the Keck telescope was used to confirm that these galaxies were at the same distance and part of the same galactic sprawl.
Once the scientists found this lumping of galaxies, they measured the combined mass with the help of Spitzer. At this distance the optical light from stars is shifted, or stretched, to infrared wavelengths that can only be observed in outer space by Spitzer.
The lump sum of the mass turned out to be a minimum of 400 billion suns-enough to indicate that the astronomers had indeed uncovered a massive proto-cluster. The Spitzer observations also helped confirm a massive galaxy at the center of the cluster was forming stars at an impressive rate. (ANI)
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