New Clues to Massive Star Formation
international teams of astronomers have used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to explore the distant corner of the Universe first revealed in the iconic images of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF). These new ALMA observations are significantly deeper and sharper than previous surveys at millimetre wavelengths. They clearly show how the rate of star formation in young galaxies is closely related to their total mass in stars. They also trace the abundance of star-forming gas at different points in time, providing new insights into the “Golden Age” of galaxy formation approximately 10 billion years ago.
The new ALMA results will be published in a series of papers appearing in the Astrophysical Journal and Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. These results are also among those being presented this week at the Half a Decade of ALMA conference in Palm Springs, California, USA.
In 2004 the Hubble Ultra Deep Field images — pioneering deep-field observations with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope — were published. These spectacular pictures probed more deeply than ever before and revealed a menagerie of galaxies stretching back to less than a billion years after the Big Bang. The area was observed several times by Hubble and many other telescopes, resulting in the deepest view of the Universe to date.
Astronomers using ALMA have now surveyed this seemingly unremarkable, but heavily studied, window into the distant Universe for the first time both deeply and sharply in the millimetre range of wavelengths . This allows them to see the faint glow from gas clouds and also the emission from warm dust in galaxies in the early Universe.
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