Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international team of astronomers has obtained high-resolution images of an ancient galaxy that existed 600 million years after the Big Bang. The galaxy, named MACS0416_Y1, is located 13.2 billion light-years away and is the most distant galaxy ever observed.
Images obtained with ALMA reveal a fascinating tapestry of dark and emissive nebulae, which together form a magnificent chamber called the superbubble. Scientists believed that this superbubble was the result of the birth of energetic stars and the shock waves caused by subsequent supernova explosions. This revelation provides important insights into galaxy formation and the birth and death of stars.
The left image shows the dark nebula (dust shown in red) and emission nebula (oxygen in green) along with an image of stars captured by the Hubble Space Telescope (blue). The right image shows the radio waves emitted by the dust inside the dark nebula. A vertically elongated elliptical cavity, a superbubble candidate, is visible in the central region.
In 2019, the same team detected radio waves emitted by oxygen and dust, two components of the interstellar nebula. To obtain these radio images, the researchers observed the galaxy for 28 hours, and the results revealed that the emission and dark nebula are interconnected, each carving out its own niche, suggesting a process in which new stars born within the dark nebula ionize the surrounding gas. .
Previous studies have suggested that this ancient galaxy, 100 times more massive than our own Milky Way, is producing stars at an astonishing rate. Such intense star formation may have triggered a series of supernova explosions, giving rise to this massive superbubble.
In addition, the team analyzed the movement of gas inside the nebula and found that it was in a turbulent state, reaching speeds of up to 200,000 kilometers per hour.
Professor Yoichi Tamura of Nagoya University, who led the team behind the discovery. noticed“Under such turbulent conditions, it is suggested that stars may form into massive clusters. These massive star clusters are characteristic of galaxies in the early universe.”