Astronomers have discovered the far, far away galaxies. The farthest galaxy cluster ever seen, in fact, a whooping 13.1 billion light-years away. According to the researchers, “these galaxies formed during the earliest stages of galaxy assembly, when galaxies had just started to cluster together.”
They have called them the Protocluster of Galaxies BoRG 58—obviously trying to rip the fundamental fabric of the sci-fi space-time nerd continuum.
The galaxies are about one-half to one-tenth the size of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, but their brightness is similar because they are being fed large amounts of gas from the merging of galaxies. The simulations show that BoRG 58 will finally collapse in a massive elliptical galaxy like M87, in the Virgo Cluster.
Michele Trenti—from the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, England—said that this “confirms our theoretical understanding of the buildup of galaxy clusters.” The image was taken with the Wide Field Camera 3, the camera installed in Hubble during the most difficult spacewalk mission ever. The image was taken in visible and near-infrared light.
Right: When the galaxies finally merge, they will look like this, the giant M87 in the Virgo Cluster.
According to Trenti, “the odds of finding something this rare are very small. The search is hit and miss. Typically, a region has nothing, but if we hit the right spot, we can find multiple galaxies.”
The study was conducted by Trenti, from the University of Colorado, Boulder and Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, England, Larry Bradley, from the Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, and the BoRG team—which stands for Brightest of Reionizing Galaxies, a team of astronomers searching for these type of galaxies, not the Star Trek villians. Their findings will be published in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal. [NASA]