The first ever galaxy observed in a “blown-out” state – revealing the secrets of the evolution of the universe

According to a study by the University of Minnesota, high-energy light from small galaxies such as the Pox 186 galaxy shown above may have played an important role in the reionization and evolution of the universe. Credits: Podevin, Jf, 2006

Small galaxies probably played an important role in the evolution of the universe.

New research led by astrophysicists at the University of Minnesota shows that high-energy light from small galaxies may have played an important role in the early evolution of the universe. This study provides insight into how the universe reionized, a problem that astronomers have been trying to solve for years.

The study is published at Astrophysical Journal, A peer-reviewed scientific journal of astrophysics and astronomy.

When the universe was formed billions of years after the Big Bang, it was in an ionized state. This means that the electrons and protons were free to float throughout the space. As the universe expanded and began to cool, the universe changed to a neutral state, much like protons and electrons combined into atoms, condensing water vapor into clouds.

But now scientists have observed that the universe is returning to an ionized state. The main effort in astronomy is to understand how this happened. Astronomers theorize that the energy for reionization must have come from the galaxy itself. However, just as clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere absorb sunlight on cloudy days, there are hydrogen clouds in the galaxy that absorb light, so it is very difficult for sufficiently high-energy light to escape from the galaxy. It’s difficult.

Astrophysicists at the University of Minnesota Institute of Astrophysics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, may have found the answer to that question. Using data from the Gemini telescope, researchers observed the first galaxy in a “blown-out” state. This means that the hydrogen cloud can be removed and high-energy light can escape. Scientists suspect that the explosion was caused by many supernovae, or dying stars, and exploded in a short period of time.

“Star formation can be thought of as blasting a balloon,” explained Nathan Egen, the lead author of a recent master’s degree in astrophysics from the University of Minnesota. “But if the star formation was more intense, it would burst or puncture the surface of the balloon to release some of its energy. In this galaxy, the star formation was so strong that it would be so strong. The balloon was torn apart and completely blown away. “

The galaxy named Pox 186 is so small that it fits in the Milky Way. Researchers suspect that the compact size combined with the large number of stars, which are 100,000 times larger than the Sun, made it possible to blow them away.

The findings confirm that blow-off is possible, promote the idea that small galaxies are primarily involved in the reionization of the universe, and give more insight into how the universe became today. I will.

“There are many scenarios in science where you can theorize something that should be true, but you can’t really find it,” Eggen said. “Therefore, it is very important to get an observational confirmation that this kind of thing can happen. If this one scenario is possible, it is that there are other galaxies that existed in the past blown away. This means that understanding the consequences of this blow will give us direct insight into the effects that similar blows would have had in the process of reionization. “

See also: “Blow-awayinthe Extreme Low-mass Starburst Galaxy Pox 186” by Nathan R. Eggen, Claudia Scarlata, Evan Skillman, Anne Jaskot, April 29, 2021 Astrophysical Journal..
DOI: 10.3847 / 1538-4357 / abe85d

In addition to Eggen, the research team included Claudia Scarlata and Evan Skillman, professors of physics and astronomy at the University of Minnesota, and Anne Jaskot, an assistant professor of astronomy at Williams College.

This study was funded by grants from the University of Minnesota and NASA. Researchers used the NASA / IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED) and NASA’s astrophysics data system. The first ever galaxy observed in a “blown-out” state – revealing the secrets of the evolution of the universe

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