NASA’s Hubble telescope has found massive ‘dead’ galaxies that had run out of the cold hydrogen gas needed to make stars.
“Hubble found galaxies running on empty! Astronomers discovered six massive, “dead” galaxies that had run out of the cold hydrogen gas needed to make stars,” NASA Hubble wrote in a tweet, sharing a collage of these galaxies.
When the universe was about 3 billion years old, just 20 per cent of its current age, it experienced the most prolific period of star birth in its history, said NASA. But when NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in northern Chile gazed toward cosmic objects in this period, they found something odd: six early, massive, empty galaxies.
Without fuel for star formation, these galaxies were literally running on empty. said findings in a journal – Nature.
“At this point in our universe, all galaxies should be forming lots of stars. It’s the peak epoch of star formation,” said the article’s lead author Kate Whitaker, assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
“So what happened to all the cold gas in these galaxies so early on?” Whitaker, who is also associate faculty at the Cosmic Dawn Center in Copenhagen, Denmark, questioned.
This study is being called an example of harmony between Hubble and ALMA observations, where Hubble pointed out the galaxies, showing how they were formed in the past. ALMA helped astronomers on the other hand, figured out where stars could form in the future if they had enough gas.
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