Newfound Hungry Galaxy Is Gobbling Up Its Surroundings

galaxy acreeting material from surroundingsThis artist’s impression shows a galaxy in the distant Universe, just two billion years after the Big Bang, in the process of pulling in cool gas (shown in orange) from its surroundings.

This newfound galaxy is pulling in gasses from neighbouring regions, fueling star growth and driving its own rotation. This is the best evidence that researchers have to support the theory of galaxy formation.

They were able to see the galaxy pulling in gasses because it sits between us and a quasar (the super bright centre of a galaxy). The light from the quasar makes this galaxy backlit from the viewpoint of us here on Earth, giving our telescopes a spectacular view.

This view includes detailed information about the properties of the gas around the galaxy. They could see that the gas is continually flowing into the galaxy and refreshing its star-making supplies and adding to its rotation. The galaxy was forming when the universe was about two billion years old.

Study researcher Michael Murphy of the Swinburne University of Technology, said in a statement: “The gas is moving as expected, there is about the expected amount and it also has the right composition to fit the models perfectly. It’s like feeding time for lions at the zoo — this particular galaxy has a voracious appetite, and we’ve discovered how it feeds itself to grow so quickly.”

The galaxy was discovered using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, and it will be published in the July 5 issue of the journal Science.

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