Galaxy Found in Rare Stage of Life

Guest_Jim_* - April 26, 2013 01:07PM in Science & Technology

Though star formation may seem common based on what we see in the night sky, the process is somewhat delicate with winds and radiation from older stars able to prevent new stars from forming. This puts a limit on the efficiency with which a galaxy can form new stars, and now researchers have found a churning out stars at almost that limit.

The galaxy, SDSSJ1506+54, came to the researchers attention when NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) recorded massive amounts of infrared light being emanated from it. The researchers then brought in the IRAM Plateau de Bure interferometer which is able to detect carbon monoxide, an indicator of hydrogen gas. Combining the data from the two observatories revealed that the galaxy must be forming new stars almost at the Eddington Limit, the theoretical maximum for star formation. Any faster and formed stars would be disrupting the proto-stars made of hydrogen gas that would otherwise collapse into stars.

As impressive a sight as this is, it will likely be short lived as the galaxy is also blowing a great deal of gas away from itself. In just tens of millions of years, it will no longer be able to create new stars and start maturing into an elliptical galaxy, the final form of a galaxy as it cools off.

Source: McGill University