Inner Structure of Galaxy at Edge of Universe Depicted in Unprecedented Detail

In a first, Japanese astronomers have depicted a monstrous galaxy near the edge of universe with unprecedented detail.The monstrous galaxy called Session Description Protocol (SDP).81 is located 11.7 billion light-years away from the Earth in the constellation called Hydra. The researchers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) located in the Atacama desert, northern Chile, with the assistance of a “natural telescope” known as a gravitational lens.

The team modelled the lensing effects and corrected them to reveal the distribution of huge stellar cradles in the monstrous galaxy.

The same model, developed by Yoichi Tamura and Masamune Oguri, assistant professors at the University of Tokyo, also indicates the existence of a supermassive black hole at the centre of the foreground galaxy.

Using their model, they corrected for lensing effects and revealed that SDP.81 is a monstrous galaxy forming stars at hundreds to thousands of times the rate, we see in the Milky Way.

This is the first time astronomers have been able to reveal the inner structure of such a distant galaxy. The model shows that the fine structures in the ring reflect the inner structure of SDP.81.

Researchers found that several dust clouds with sizes of 200 – 500 light-years are distributed within an elliptic region 5,000 light-years across.

The dust clouds are thought to be giant molecular clouds, the birthplaces of stars and planets. The clouds in SDP.81 have sizes similar to those found in our Milky Way and nearby galaxies

“This discovery is an important step to understand the evolutionary process of starburst galaxies and supermassive black holes in galaxies,” the authors said.

The paper appeared in the journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan.