Nav: Home

Astronomers find a galaxy unchanged since the early universe

June 07, 2018

There is a calculation suggesting that only one in a thousand massive galaxies is a relic of the early universe, conserving intact the properties it had when it was formed thousands of millions of years ago. For that reason when the researchers at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the University of La Laguna (ULL), Michael Beasley and Ignacio Trujillo located this rarity they wrote a proposal for time on the Hubble Space Telescope to observe the globular clusters surrounding it, and so confirm what had been suggested by the observations they had made with ground-based telescopes.

Globular clusters are groups of stars which orbit round the outskirts of galaxies and they were formed with the galaxies at their birth. There are two types of populations of globular clusters: the red ones, which are born in massive galaxies, which are found nearer to their centres and have higher content of heavy elements than of Helium, and the blue ones, which have a lower fraction of metals and which are found around massive galaxies as a consequence of their absorbing smaller galaxies.

Analyzing these clusters helps provide information about the history of galaxies. The results of the research published today in Nature showed that the galaxy NGC 1277 has only the red globular cluster which formed along with it during the formation period. Since then it has remained unchanged. "Globular cluster systems are very sensitive to the history of galaxy formation" explains Michael Beasley, the first author of the article who also affirms that "this is the first time a galaxy so massive has been observed with so few blue globular clusters".

The galaxy NGC 1277 is composed of a million million stars and its name comes from its entry in the historic New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Star Clusters. It is in the central zone of the Perseus Cluster, the biggest concentration of galaxies close to the Milky Way, and its relative proximity, 70 Mpc (225 million light years) makes it the ideal object for analyzing the properties of a galaxy which has remained essentially unchanged since the early days of the universe. "The galaxy NGC 1277 gives us a unique opportunity to study a "primitive" galaxy in the "local" universe" adds Ignacio Trujillo, another of the authors of the article.

When this galaxy was born it gave birth to 1,000 stars per year, whilst for comparison the Milky Way is currently forming only one star per year.

The reason why these researchers think that this massive galaxy has kept its original form and composition unchanged during all this time is because it formed as a satellite to the central galaxy of the Perseus cluster, which absorbed any material that could have fallen onto NGC 1277 and caused it to evolve differently. It orbits the central galaxy now, at a velocity of 1,000 kilometres per second.

The authors are planning to ask for more time with the Hubble Space Telescope and with its successor the James Webb Space Telescope, to observe the globular clusters of other relic galaxies.
-end-


Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC)

Related Hubble Space Telescope Articles:

New way to weigh a white dwarf: Use Hubble Space Telescope
For the first time, astronomers have used a novel method to determine the mass of a type of star known as a 'white dwarf' -- the shrunken corpse of a dead star that used to be like our sun.
NASA's James Webb space telescope completes acoustic and vibration tests
At NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland the James Webb Space Telescope team completed the acoustic and vibration portions of environmental testing on the telescope.
Probing seven worlds with NASA's James Webb Space Telescope
With the discovery of seven earth-sized planets around the TRAPPIST-1 star 40 light years away, astronomers are looking to the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope to help us find out if any of these planets could possibly support life.
NASA restarts rigorous vibration testing on the James Webb Space Telescope
Testing on the James Webb Space Telescope successfully resumed last week at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md.
Robot would assemble modular telescope -- in space
A new concept in space telescope design uses a modular structure and an assembly robot to build an extremely large telescope in space, performing tasks in which astronaut fatigue would be a problem.
Science instruments of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope successfully installed
With surgical precision, two dozen engineers and technicians successfully installed the package of science instruments of the James Webb Space Telescope into the telescope structure.
James Webb Space Telescope's golden mirror unveiled
NASA engineers recently unveiled the giant golden mirror of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope as part of the integration and testing of the infrared telescope.
Earth-space telescope system produces hot surprise
Combining an orbiting radio telescope with telescopes on Earth made a system capable of the highest resolution of any observation ever made in astronomy.
NASA marks major milestones for the James Webb Space Telescope
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope just got a little closer to launch with the completion of cryogenic testing on its science cameras and spectrographs and the installation of the final flight mirrors.
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope secondary mirror installed
The sole secondary mirror that will fly aboard NASA's James Webb Space Telescope was installed onto the telescope at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, on March 3, 2016.

Related Hubble Space Telescope Reading:

The Hubble Cosmos: 25 Years of New Vistas in Space
by David H. Devorkin (Author), Robert W. Smith (Author), Robert P. Kirshner (Foreword)

To celebrate NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and its 25 years of accomplishments, let The Hubble Cosmos fill your mind with big ideas, brilliant imagery, and a new understanding of the universe in which we live. Relive key moments in the monumental Hubble story, from launch through major new instrumentation to the promise of discoveries to come. With more than 150 photographs including Hubble All-Stars—the most famous of all the noteworthy images—The Hubble Cosmos shows how this telescope is revolutionizing our understanding of the universe. View Details


Hubble's Universe: Greatest Discoveries and Latest Images
by Terence Dickinson (Author)

Praise for the first edition:
"Superbly well produced. Any engagement with this 'cosmic portfolio,' from picture gazing to deep reading, is grandly rewarded."
--Booklist

[starred review] "The book's precise descriptions and captions brilliantly complement the 300 full-color Hubble images . . . this is an amazing book . . . outstanding."
--Library Journal

"A treasure map to the majesty of our universe."
--Publishers Weekly

"A reminder that the finest telescope in space might also be the greatest camera ever... View Details


NASA Hubble Space Telescope - 1990 onwards (including all upgrades): An insight into the history, development, collaboration, construction and role of space telescope (Owners' Workshop Manual)
by David Baker (Author)

The Hubble Space Telescope is an international venture primarily between the USA and Europe. More than any other space project, Hubble has encouraged an expanding interest in popular astronomy. With stunning views of the cosmos, it has inspired a new generation of enthusiasts to study the night sky through simple telescopes or in books. As such it has linked space technology with popular interest in astronomy and has thrilled specialists and the lay public alike.

View Details


Hubble Space Telescope: New Views of the Universe
by Mark Voit (Author)

Colorful and awe-inspiring poster-size photographs of emerging star, nebulae, and other astronomical marvels highlight an exploration of the impact that the Hubble Space Telescope has had on scientific study and general appreciation of the wonders of the skies. Original. View Details


Hubble: Imaging Space and Time
by David H. Devorkin (Author), Robert Smith (Author)

In the spirit of National Geographic’s top-selling Orbit, this large-format, full-color volume stands alone in revealing more than 200 of the most spectacular images from the Hubble Space Telescope during its lifetime, to the very eve of the 2008 final shuttle mission to the telescope. Written by two of the world’s foremost authorities on space history, Hubble: Imaging Space and Time illuminates the solar system’s workings, the expansion of the universe, the birth and death of stars, the formation of planetary nebulae, the dynamics of galaxies, and the mysterious force... View Details


Expanding Universe: Photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope
by Owen Edwards (Contributor), Zoltan Levay (Contributor)

Time, space, and a telescope: Hubble’s most magnificent images

With investigations into everything from black holes to exoplanets, the Hubble Telescope has changed not only the face of astronomy, but also our very sense of being in the universe. On the 25th anniversary of its launch into low-earth orbit, TASCHEN celebrates its most breathtaking deep space images both as scientific feats and as photographic masterpieces.

Ultra high-resolution and taken with almost no background... View Details


The Hubble Space Telescope: From Concept to Success (Springer Praxis Books)
by David J. Shayler (Author), David M. Harland (Author)

The highly successful Hubble Space Telescope was meant to change our view and understanding of the universe. Within weeks of its launch in 1990, however, the space community was shocked to find out that the primary mirror of the telescope was flawed. It was only the skills of scientists and engineers on the ground and the daring talents of astronauts sent to service the telescope in December 1993 that saved the mission.

For over two decades NASA had developed the capabilities to service a payload in orbit. This involved numerous studies and the creation of a ground-based... View Details


Hubble Space Telescope 2019 12 x 12 Inch Monthly Square Wall Calendar by Wyman, Science Space Technology
by Inc. BrownTrout Publishers (Author), BrownTrout Publishers Editing Team (Editor), BrownTrout Publishers Design Team (Editor)

Hubble Space Telescope 2019 12 x 12 Inch Monthly Square Wall Calendar by Wyman, Science Space Technology View Details


The Hubble Space Telescope: A Universe of New Discovery
by The Associated Press (Author)

On April 24, 1990, after years of planning and delays, the Space Shuttle Discovery lifted the Hubble Space Telescope into an orbit 350 miles above Earth. During the next 25 years, Hubble opened a new and unimaginably beautiful universe for mankind. Here, The Associated Press provides a unique look at the 25-year story of Hubble, through the eyes of its reporting and its stunning photography. View Details


Hubble Space Telescope 2018 12 x 12 Inch Monthly Square Wall Calendar by Wyman, Science Space Technology NASA
by Wyman (Author), BrownTrout Publishers (Author)

This calendar is filled with stunning images of the universe that surrounds us, captured by the marvelous Hubble Space Telescope. Produced via environmentally friendly processes, using chlorine free FSC-certified paper and vegetable-based inks, this beautifully photographed 16-month 12" x 12" wall calendar includes an additional page featuring smaller grids of the months September, October, November and December 2017. This wall calendar is produced in English format. View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

The Person You Become
Over the course of our lives, we shed parts of our old selves, embrace new ones, and redefine who we are. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about the experiences that shape the person we become. Guests include aerobatics pilot and public speaker Janine Shepherd, writers Roxane Gay and Taiye Selasi, activist Jackson Bird, and fashion executive Kaustav Dey.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#479 Garden of Marvels (Rebroadcast)
This week we're learning about botany and the colorful science of gardening. Author Ruth Kassinger joins us to discuss her book "A Garden of Marvels: How We Discovered that Flowers Have Sex, Leaves Eat Air, and Other Secrets of the Way Plants Work." And we'll speak to NASA researcher Gioia Massa about her work to solve the technical challenges of gardening in space.