UK Scientists Just Helped Discover 4000 New Galaxies With Their 3D Map of the Early Universe

Wednesday, 04 April 2018 - 2:17PM
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Wednesday, 04 April 2018 - 2:17PM
UK Scientists Just Helped Discover 4000 New Galaxies With Their 3D Map of the Early Universe
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Anyone who's ever attempted to build a LEGO set can attest that sometimes, even with detailed instructions, creating an accurate model can be hard.

That's even truer when you're dealing with a cosmic scale. There's a lot of data floating around in space that could be used for such a model, and it's often hard to see things clearly enough to figure out where every little piece of information ought to end up.

Scientists led by Dr. David Sobral from the UK's Lancaster University have managed the impressive feat of mapping the entire universe in 3D. What's particularly exciting about this map is that it isn't a view of the universe as it now exists, but rather, a glimpse back billions of years into the past, when our universe was new, shiny, and relatively small.



This mapping was achieved by using data collected by the Subaru telescope in Hawaii and the Isaac Newton telescope in the Canary Islands. By viewing distant (and therefore exceptionally old) stars, the scientists were able to build a map of the universe as it existed between 11 and 13 billion years ago.

The challenge with this is that not all light that reaches us from these most distant stars is in pristine condition. As the universe has expanded, this light has stretched and warped, so that it no longer delivers an accurate depiction of where these stars were in relation to each other.

This warping also has the effect of making the light appear redder, which is why this phenomenon is known as "redshift". These stars are apparently just one letter away from being murdered in a classic-era episode of Star Trek.




Because of the inherent inaccuracy of their data thanks to redshift, the scientists had to compensate for the changes to light waves that have occurred over time. Thankfully, this warping also means that we're able to see stars that otherwise should be beyond our view, so there is a benefit to looking closely at these hall-of-mirror lights.

Sorting through all of this data has led to a fascinating discovery, and once everything was picked apart and reorganized, the researchers had positively identified nearly 4000 galaxies that existed during this time period, but which had never before been discovered by humans.

Now that the data has been organized and the universe has been mapped, these literally obscure galaxies can actually be examined in great detail, leading to a clear picture of not just their formation, but also the materials that they were made of.

According to Dr. Sobral:

Opening quote
"These early galaxies seem to have gone through many more "bursts" when they formed stars, instead of forming them at a relatively steady rate like our own galaxy. Additionally, they seem to have a population of young stars that is hotter, bluer and more metal-poor than those we see today."
Closing quote


By now, these galaxies have long since scattered and shifted, but their light remains for anyone who wants to take a good look at them. Now, thanks to this new model, we have a far better understanding of the size and scope of the early universe, and all the wonderful, previously undiscovered galaxies that inhabited it.

These early galaxies seem to have gone through many more "bursts" when they formed stars, instead of forming them at a relatively steady rate like our own galaxy. Additionally, they seem to have a population of young stars that is hotter, bluer and more metal-poor than those we see today.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-04-astrophysicists-infant-universe-d-early.html#jCp
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