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Primordial Matter from Big Bang Fueling a Distant Galaxy


Astronomers have detected cold streams of primordial hydrogen, vestigial matter left over from the Big Bang, fueling a distant star-forming galaxy in the early Universe. Profuse flows of gas onto galaxies are believed to be crucial for explaining an era 10 billion years ago, when galaxies were copiously forming stars. To make this discovery, the astronomers – a team led by Neil Crighton (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and Swinburne University) – made use of a cosmic coincidence: a bright, distant quasar acting as a "cosmic lighthouse" illuminates the gas flow from behind. 

Using data collected from the largest optical telescopes in the world, researchers led by Neil Crighton (MPIA and Swinburne University of Technology) have now made the first unambiguous detection of this accretion of pristine gas onto a star-forming galaxy, that was previously theorized to exist based on cosmological simulations of galaxy formation. This simulation shown here was run by the Making Galaxies in a Cosmological Context (MaGICC) project in the theory group at MPIA.

In the current narrative of how galaxies like our own Milky Way formed, cosmologists postulate that they were once fed from a vast reservoir of pristine hydrogen in the intergalactic medium, which permeates the vast expanses between galaxies. Approximately ten billion years ago when the Universe was just one fifth of its current age, early proto-galaxies were in a state of extreme activity, forming new stars at nearly one hundred times their current rate. Because stars form from gas, this fecundity demands a steady source of cosmic fuel.

In the past decade, supercomputer simulations of galaxy formation have become so sophisticated that they can actually predict how galaxies form and are fed: gas funnels onto galaxies along thin "cold streams" which, like streams of snow melt feeding a mountain lake, channel cool gas from the surrounding intergalactic medium onto galaxies, continuously topping up their supplies of raw material for star formation (Birnboim & Dekel 2003, MNRAS, 345, 349; Dekel et al. 2009, Nature, 457, 451).


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However, testing these predictions has proven to be extremely challenging, because such gas at the edges of galaxies is so rarefied that it emits very little light. Instead, the team of MPIA astronomers systematically searched for examples of a very specific type of cosmic coincidence. Quasars constitute a brief phase in the galactic life-cycle, during which they shine as the most luminous objects in the Universe, powered by the infall of matter onto a supermassive black hole. From our perspective on Earth, there will be rare cases where a distant background quasar and a stream of primordial gas near a foreground galaxy are exactly aligned on the night sky.

As light from the quasar travels toward Earth, it passes by the galaxy and through the primordial gas, before reaching our telescopes. The cosmic gas selectively absorbs light at very specific frequencies which astronomers refer to as "absorption lines". The pattern and shape of these lines provide a cosmic barcode, which astronomers can decode to determine the chemical composition, density, and temperature of the gas.

Using this technique, a team of astronomers led by Neil Crighton (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy; now at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne) has found the best evidence to date for a flow of pristine intergalactic gas onto a galaxy. The galaxy, denoted Q1442-MD50, is so distant that it took 11 billion years for its light to reach us. The primordial infalling gas resides a mere 190,000 light-years from the galaxy – relatively nearby on galactic length-scales – and is revealed in silhouette in the absorption spectrum of the more distant background quasar QSO J1444535+291905.

A crucial element of their discovery is the detection of the spectral signature of cosmic deuterium, a stable isotope of hydrogen (with an extra neutron in the nucleus). Cosmologists have demonstrated that hydrogen and helium and their stable isotopes like deuterium were all synthesized just minutes after the Big Bang, when the Universe was hot enough to power nuclear reactions. All heavier elements like carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen were created much later in the hot nuclear furnaces of stars. Because the hostile physical conditions in the centers of stars would destroy the fragile deuterium isotope, the discovery of deuterium in the gas confirms that the gas falling onto the galaxy is indeed pristine material left over from the Big Bang.

Crighton explains: "This is not the first time astronomers have found a galaxy with nearby gas, revealed by a quasar. But it is the first time that everything fits together: The galaxy is vigorously forming stars, and the gas properties clearly show that this is pristine material, left over from the early universe shortly after the big bang."

This discovery of this system is part of a large survey for quasar sightlines which pass near galaxies, which is coordinated by Joseph Hennawi, the leader of the ENIGMA research group at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy.

Hennawi adds: "Since this discovery is the result of a systematic search, we can now deduce that such cold flows are quite common: We only had to search 12 quasar-galaxy pairs to discover this example. This rate is in rough agreement with the predictions of supercomputer simulations, which provides a vote of confidence for our current theories of how galaxies formed."

The astronomers' long-term goal is to find about ten similar examples of these cold flows, which would allow for a much more detailed comparison of their observations with the predictions of numerical models. To this end, they are currently searching for more quasar-galaxy pairs using the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona and the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile. J. Xavier Prochaska (University of California at Santa Cruz), a collaborator on the survey, concludes: "Previous studies of these galaxies had shown evidence for gas flowing out of them, something we also see evidence for. However with Neil's much more precise analysis, we can also detect the raw material fueling galaxies, and thereby trace how much gas they take in, and when. That is a key piece in the puzzle of galaxy formation."

"This is a very interesting finding," said Avishai Dekel of Hebrew University, Jerusalem, who was instrumental in theoretically and numerically establishing the current model of cold-flow accretion onto galaxies. "It is consistent with the theoretical prediction, based both on physical analysis and on cosmological simulations, for the feeding of high-redshift galaxies by cold streams from the cosmic web.The low metallicity makes this case for inflow more convincing than earlier detections."

The image above shows two pristine gas clouds found by astronomers in one of the filamentary regions visible around galaxies. Simulation by Ceverino, Dekel & Primack

The Daily Galaxy via MPIA



Here's an interesting line from the article: "Scientists . . . made use of a cosmic coincidence: a bright, distant quasar acting as a "cosmic lighthouse" illuminates the gas flow from behind."

But if, as according to Halton Arp, quasars are the products of galaxies (glowing at either edge), then the galaxy that is "lensing" the quasar is actually the galaxy generating the quasar and astronomers are not seeing a far distant galaxy with a quasar behind it. They're seeing a galaxy with a quasar being flung out from one side of it. They've already made up their minds about how the universe works and keep looking for ways to bolster their science.

@Dr. Poul Cook,

Quote: “They've already made up their minds about how the universe works and keep looking for ways to bolster their science”.

Precisely so! The "redshift expanding universe" idea is totally wrong and subsequently also the linear Big Bang idea.

And the very same goes for this statement:

"Astronomers have detected cold streams of primordial hydrogen, vestigial matter left over from the Big Bang, fueling a distant star-forming galaxy in the early Universe".

AD: "Primordial hydrogen" is present all over the place (Representing the CMB) and this "watery media" is the eternal media in which all creation takes place eternally over and over again.

The "Primordial hydrogen" is not "leftovers from Big Bang". It was already filling the Universe BEFORE the supposed Big Bang and therefore it cannot be taken as evidence for the BB-idea.

This is so typical of narrow minded scientists. Jumping into conclusions they can not prove.

How do you know that gas is falling into the black hole? Did you take a series of shots and actually positively identified that movement direction? No. You didn't. Yet, you still claim that the gas is falling into the black hole. An assumption you can not prove by scientific data.

What if what you are seeing is a multidimensional portal (black hole) stepping down the higher dimensional energy and converting it into matter and then creating a galaxy around it? Because the image above has all the signs of it.

My claim is that gas flows in the direction from the black hole towards peripheral areas. In the years to come, take a few time-lapse photos and prove me otherwise.

The claim that the gas is flowing towards this black hole has not been proven in any way by any scientific method. It is an assumption. If nothing else, admit it!

Also this: "All heavier elements like carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen were created much later in the hot nuclear furnaces of stars" - comes from the Standard Model of formation, taken from the idea of formation of planets in our solar system, in which scientists "states" that gravity itself can create nuclear conditions, which is pure nonsense.
- Stars are created in the galactic centers which is why our solar system is orbiting the Milky Way centre as an integrated part of this. Magnetic gamma rays reveal the electric power that creates the swirling nuclear formation in the galactic centre.
Besides this, “the Standard Model gravity” is also proven wrong with the discovery of the galactic rotation anomaly.

Helium and hydrogen atoms/molecules formed within minutes after the Big Bang : this is puzzling : the notion "atoms" and "temperature" implicates mass and gravity; I presume the amount of mass was at that moment insignificant in relation to the amount of energy present, otherwise the whole system would have collapsed under its own weight?

What big bang,no such event ever,ever took place.this theory is equivalent to the bibles story of Adam and eve.

As I have previously stated,yes this might be primordial soup,but it is from allegedly the initial inflationary period about 15 billion years ago.most of the unseen universe is double this distance which we will never see.

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