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Astronomers Capture The Sharpest Image Yet Of A Monster Galaxy 12.4. Billion Light Years Away

Looking back 13-billion years into our universe’s past, a group of scientists first discovered the monster COSMOS-AzTEC-1 galaxy using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawai’i and later followed up with observations using the Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT) in Mexico and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile.

The mechanism that causes COSMOS-AzTEC-1’s gas instability remains unclear. Tadaki and his colleagues hypothesize that it could be caused by a galaxy merger: a collision between two or more galaxies that can transport gas efficiently throughout the galaxy and can initiate a burst of star-formation. However, their current observations didn’t detect any of the signs of such an event, and a merger wouldn’t entirely explain how COSMOS-AzTEC-1 was able to keep its enormous surplus of gas from becoming stars before it began its starburst period.

Monster galaxies, also known as starburst galaxies, are thought to be ancestors of massive galaxies like the Milky Way in today's universe. This image is an artist's impression of ZF-COSMOS-20115, a monster galaxy discovered in 2017

 

Despite the lingering questions though, Tadaki and his team’s research is a perfect example of how technological improvements will find the solutions to long-standing scientific mysteries and reveal unexpected secrets hidden throughout our universe.