A team led by Yoichi Tamura, an astronomer at Nagoya University, attempted to make a high-resolution observation of a galaxy 13.2 billion light-years away. Named MACS0416_Y1, the galaxy is located in the constellation Eridanus.
New observations of the galaxy using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) have distinguished the sites of star formation and potential star death from the surrounding nebula. The findings indicate that the oxygen emission zones and dust signal regions are tight and mutually exclusive. This suggests that newly produced stars within nebulae ionize the surrounding gas.
In the dusty region, the researchers also discovered a massive cavity spanning about 1,000 light-years. As many small, large, and short-lived stars form, successive supernova explosions form giant “superbubbles” in nebulae. The newly discovered cavity is likely to be such a superbubble.
Takuya Hashimoto from the University of Tsukuba describes the observational performance as follows: “This corresponds to capturing the very faint light emitted by two fireflies located 3 centimeters apart on top of Mount Fuji as seen from Tokyo, and distinguishing between those two fireflies.”
Team leader Tamura explains the possibilities based on these results, “In the future, high-resolution observations of these constellations with instruments such as the James Webb Space Telescope and planned much larger telescopes will yield more detailed information.”
- Yoichi Tamura et al. “300 pc resolution imaging of the Az = 8.31 galaxy: Turbulent ionized gas and stellar feedback 600 million years after the Big Bang” in The Astrophysical Journal. DOI 10.3847/1538-4357/acd637