Scientists Discover Massive ‘Pipeline’ In Space Feeding Enormous Remote Galaxy
Scientists in the US have discovered what they believed to be a ‘pipeline’ feeding a huge galaxy first formed billions of years ago.
Some have estimated our universe to be 48 billion lightyears across, within which there may be up to two trillion galaxies. Over many, many years, the shape of the universe has changed, evolved and shifted in ways we can’t possibly know in their entirety.
It’s previously been suggested that galaxies have been fed by gas infusions, however it’s also been difficult to observe or analyse with firm scientific frameworks – until now.
Hai Fu, an associate professor of astronomy at the University of Iowa, told VICE how he and a team of scientists have found a ‘pipeline’ gas filament in the universe’s cosmic web, said to be feeding an enormous remote galaxy first formed when the universe was just a fifth of its age, at 2.5 billion years old.
Commenting on the study, published in the Astrophysical Journal, Fu told the publication with regards to filaments delivering cold gas to galaxies: ‘This is by far the best evidence we have.’
Earlier studies couldn’t capture the same level of data ‘to support their origin as inflows’ according to Fu, who was actually able to identify the gas stream’s chemical signatures for the galaxy known as SMM J0913. ‘The stream stood out in silhouette against two bright quasars,’ he said.
The team could delve into the chemicals by using spectral information captured by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the largest radio telescope in the world.
Fu said it was a ‘tremendous relief’ when they finally got the answers they were looking for. ‘In the long term, we would need to find more streams around other massive galaxies, and I wonder how we can achieve that efficiently, using existing telescopes,’ he added.
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