Hubble Observes Strange Hyperactive Galaxies

With the help NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope astronomers has uncovered 69 hyperactive dwarf galaxies brimming with star formation. They are about 9 billion light-years away from Earth. They’re churning out stars so fast that their stellar population would double in just 10 million years. By contrast, it took the Milky Way 1,000 times longer to double its number of stars, researchers said. The new results are unexpected, since they’re somewhat at odds with other recent studies of ancient dwarf galaxies. The observations were part of the Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey (CANDELS), an ambitious three-year study to analyze the most distant galaxies in the universe.  CANDELS  is the first census of dwarf galaxies  at  such an early epoch. 

According to Harry Ferguson of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md., co-leader of the CANDELS survey those studies suggest that star formation was a relatively slow process, stretching out over billions of years. The CANDELS finding that there were galaxies of roughly the same size forming stars at very rapid rates at early times is forcing their to re-examine what they thought they knew about dwarf galaxy evolution. The CANDELS team uncovered the 69 young dwarf galaxies in near-infrared images taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys.

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