Enormous Galaxy Formed When Universe was 6% of Its Present Size Puzzles Astronomers
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January 19, 2014

Enormous Galaxy Formed When Universe was 6% of Its Present Size Puzzles Astronomers




Himiko, a "space blob" named after a legendary queen from ancient Japan, is an enormous galaxy, with a hot glowing gaseous halo extending over 55,000 light-years. Not only is Himiko very large, it is extraordinarily distant, seen at a time approximately 800 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was only 6 percent of its present size and stars and galaxies were just beginning to form.

How could such an early galaxy have sufficient energy to power such a vast glowing gas cloud? In search of the answer to this question, Richard Ellis, the Steele Family Professor of Astronomy at Caltech, together with colleagues from the University of Tokyo and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, undertook an exploration of Himiko using the combined resources of the Hubble Space Telescope and the new Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile's Atacama Desert. The data collected through these observations answered the initial question about the source of energy powering Himiko, but revealed some puzzling data as well.

The Hubble images, receiving optical and ultraviolet light, reveal three stellar clumps covering a space of 20,000 light-years. Each clump is the size of a typical luminous galaxy dating to the epoch of Himiko. Together, the clumps achieve a prodigious rate of star formation, equivalent to about one hundred solar masses per year. This is more than sufficient to explain the existence of Himiko and its gaseous halo. The observation of the three stellar clumps is exciting in itself, as it means that Himiko is a "triple merger," which, according to Ellis, is "a remarkably rare event."

But a surprising anomaly emerged when Himiko was observed by ALMA. Although the giant gas cloud was bustling with energy at ultraviolet and optical frequencies, it was comparatively sleepy in the submillimeter and radio ranges that ALMA detects. Ordinarily, intense star formation creates dust clouds that are composed of elements such as carbon, oxygen, and silicon, which are heavy in comparison to the hydrogen and helium of the early universe. When these dust clouds are heated up by the ultraviolet light emitted by the developing stars, the dust reradiates the ultraviolet light out into the universe at radio wavelengths. But ALMA did not receive significant radio signals from Himiko, suggesting that heavier elements are not present. Also missing was the spectral signature associated with the emission of gaseous carbon, something also common in galaxies with intense star formation.

Both of these nondetections—of substantial radio waves and of gaseous carbon—are perplexing since carbon is ordinarily rapidly synthesized in young stars. Indeed, carbon emission has heretofore been recommended as a tracer of star formation in distant galaxies. But, as Ellis and his fellow astronomers found, Himiko does not contain the dust clouds of heavier elements that astronomers find in typical energetic galaxies. Instead its interstellar gas is composed of hydrogen and helium—primitive materials formed in the Big Bang itself.

Ellis and his fellow astronomers did not come to this conclusion quickly. They first carefully ruled out several other possible explanations for Himiko, including that the giant blob is being created by the magnification of a foreground object by a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing, or is being powered by a massive black hole at its center. Ultimately, the team concluded that Himiko is most likely a primordial galaxy caught in the moment of its formation between 400 million to 1 billion years after the Big Bang, a period astronomers term the cosmic dawn.

"Astronomers are usually excited when a signal from an object is detected," Ellis says, "but in this case it's the absence of a signal from heavy elements that is the most exciting result!"

Artist's rendition of Himiko at the top of the page is based on the results from the observations of ALMA and Hubble Space Telescope. Himiko is mainly composed of clean primordial gas with a little amount of heavy elements.




The Hubble images above (Figure 1) reveal three stellar clumps aligned over 20 thousand light years. Each clump has brightness comparable to a typical luminous galaxy at the epoch of Himiko, when the Universe was only 800 million years old. The gigantic hydrogen cloud (or space blob) engulfs the three clumps. No single bright core is found, ruling out the possibility that Himiko is powered by a supermassive black hole. By combining the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescope data, the astronomers reveal intense star formation in Himiko. Matthew Ashby, a team member at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said "We find Himiko is converting gas into stars at a rate of about a hundred solar masses per year, several times more intensely than any known object at this epoch. This intense star production rate is probably sufficient to heat the vast space blob."

The most astonishing find, however, is that the ALMA data show no signal of carbon gas which is used as the index of star formation nor radiation from dust clouds within the system heated by young stars. The radio intensity of carbon gas emission is more than 30 times weaker than present-day galaxies with comparable star formation activities. Given the sensitivity of ALMA, this is truly remarkable.

In the first few minutes after the Big Bang, light elements, e.g. hydrogen and helium, are created. On the other hand, "heavy" elements such as carbon and oxygen are synthesized by nuclear fusion reactions in stars. "Himiko reveals no radio emission from either the solid or gaseous state of heavy elements." remarked Kotaro Kohno, a member of the team. "Star formation and associated supernova explosions normally create dust clouds composed of grains of carbon, oxygen, silicon and other elements. This dust is heated by ultra-violet radiation from massive newborn stars and the warm dust then re-radiates at radio wavelengths. Such radiation is not detected in Himiko. Even more surprising, we detect no emission from gaseous carbon".

As a result, the astronomers speculate that Himiko could be composed of primordial gas, a mixture of the light elements of hydrogen and helium created in the Big Bang. If correct, this would be a landmark discovery signaling the detection of a primordial galaxy seen during its formation.

The paper reporting the results of this research, titled "An Intensely Star-Forming Galaxy at Z ~ 7 with Low Dust and Metal Content Revealed by Deep ALMA and HST Observations," will be published in the December 1, 2013, issue of the Astrophysical Journal. The work was funded by NASA through a grant from the Space Telescope Science Institute, the World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI Initiative), and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

The Daily Galaxy via CalTech


I wonder how the presence of more anti-matter during that time would affect this. If anti-matter existed at all at that time of course, it's just a theory after all.

There is a big bang only in the vacuum between the ears of these miscreants... however there seem to be many "small bangs: :-)

During those early times filaments of energy condensed into cooler chunks of matter. Himiko is an example of the further cleavage of one of those objects that became what we call black holes.
Himiko is the result of the division of one of those primordial bodies into two parts. One of those parts divided into the third object. Unlikely it stopped there.
E.g., one of those 'chunks of matter' divided to form eventually the nuclei of our Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies. A smaller piece formed M33. Called Mitosis of Galactic Nuclei, this process has been continuing. When a fragment of the nucleus lodges within the galaxy it may form a star burst conglomerate. When the breakaway nucleus ends up outside the galaxy it forms what we call a satellite galaxy.
Thus, those super massive objects reduced their bulk for more efficient production of stars.
For a pre reduction example see NGC 1277.
The nuclei of galaxies probably never stabilize due to continuing accretion of matter from the outer galaxy.

it just is not logical that the big bang ever happened. possibly a little bang in the local universe but not a big bang creating the entire universe. it is just not reasonable to think that just because we can see about 14 billion light years with our current sensors and devices that that is all there is. bb thoery also seems to accept that we are somehow near the center of the universe. when you consider the concepts of infinity and eternity, that makes no sence.

John burns, those are peculiar statements.

My understanding is that astronomers do not assume that the visible universe is all that exists. Also, no theory places us anywhere near the center of the universe because special relativity says that there is no privileged reference frame. Basically, everywhere and nowhere qualify equally for being the center of the universe.

We are at the center of the observable-to-us universe by definition, because we can't exactly decide to examine everything from the Andromeda Galaxy or the Sombrero Galaxy or even just the other side of the Milky Way.

So your characterization of how the universe is viewed is inaccurate, and thus not really usable to dismiss the possibility of the big bang.


"Universe Could be 250 Times Bigger Than What is Observable"


"There are no privileged frames of reference."

for more information.

so there was a time the Universe was the size of a galaxy, and somethig happened right near us (not much space to do other) and somehow the light from that didn`t bother to travel to us. First the matter started travel with superluminic speed, than it stopped (or slowered) so that the lazy light was able to retrieve the time-space, and 13 billion years later it got to us. Have fun everyone...

SCIENCE SHOWS THAT THE UNIVERSE CANNOT BE ETERNAL because it could not have sustained itself eternally due to the law of entropy (increasing net energy decay, even in an open system). Einstein showed that space, matter, and time all are physical and all had a beginning. Space even produces particles because it’s actually something, not nothing. Even time had a beginning! Time is not eternal.

The law of entropy doesn't allow the universe to be eternal. If the universe were eternal, everything, including time (which modern science has shown is as physical as mass and space), would have become totally entropied by now and the entire universe would have ended in a uniform heat death a long, long time ago. The fact that this hasn't happened already is powerful evidence for a beginning to the universe.

Popular atheistic scientist Stephen Hawking admits that the universe had a beginning and came from nothing but he believes that nothing became something by a natural process yet to be discovered. That's not rational thinking at all, and it also would be making the effect greater than its cause to say that nothing created something. The beginning had to be of supernatural origin because natural laws and processes do not have the ability to bring something into existence from nothing. What about the Higgs boson (the so-called “God Particle”)? The Higgs boson does not create mass from nothing, but rather it converts energy into mass. Einstein showed that all matter is some form of energy.

The supernatural cannot be proved by science but science points to a supernatural intelligence and power for the origin and order of the universe. Where did God come from? Obviously, unlike the universe, God’s nature doesn’t require a beginning.

EXPLAINING HOW AN AIRPLANE WORKS doesn't mean no one made the airplane. Explaining how life or the universe works doesn't mean there was no Maker behind them. Natural laws may explain how the order in the universe works and operates, but mere undirected natural laws cannot explain the origin of that order. Once you have a complete and living cell then the genetic code and biological machinery exist to direct the formation of more cells, but how could life or the cell have naturally originated when no directing code and mechanisms existed in nature? Read my Internet article: HOW FORENSIC SCIENCE REFUTES ATHEISM.

WHAT IS SCIENCE? Science simply is knowledge based on observation. No one observed the universe coming by chance or by design, by creation or by evolution. These are positions of faith. The issue is which faith the scientific evidence best supports.

Visit my newest Internet site: THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION

Babu G. Ranganathan*
(B.A. Bible/Biology)


*I have given successful lectures (with question and answer period afterwards) defending creation before evolutionist science faculty and students at various colleges and universities. I've been privileged to be recognized in the 24th edition of Marquis "Who's Who in The East" for my writings on religion and science.

The discovery of this galaxy brings further the thought that there could be even more such galaxies that we are yet to discover within our observable galaxies. It also brings up the fact that there could also be many more in the complete universe that is out of the reach of light from us.

Do you really think that the beginning of time is the primary issue at this critical juncture of our intellectual struggle to understand the universe? Do you really think that anyone can find and prove the beginning of time?

If the real central issue of survival is primary and not finding and proving how the universe started off how come it was brought into the realms of scientific theories? To answer this question one must go back why the New Theory of Knowledge is completely ignored by science. The great basic question that split philosophy into two great camps is the relationship between spirit and nature. Those who answered that spirit is primary belong to the camp of the various schools of philosophical idealism. And those who answered that nature is primary belong to the various schools of philosophical materialism.

But according to the new theory of knowledge any other use of the two leads to creation and because it is always link to religion eventually confusion. No one can deny that the world of science is principally engaged in finding and proving how the universe started off, and so, therefore, science is confused. The big bang means the beginning of time. And the beginning of time implies creation. Thus, some said that "Science is in crisis over its meanings because it is stuck with creation". Some have even ventured to argue that "It ceased to be interested in a quest for new knowledge for the ultimate survival of the humans".

It is obvious that creation mojo is rising in the world of science. Here is why.

On the one hand, if the philosophical idealist scientists uphold the old myth of creation based on the sacred text of the bible, on the other hand, the philosophical mechanical scientists upholds the modern scientific myth of big bang creation. In that sense, there are no basic contradiction between science and religion. That's assuming the big bang hypothesis is correct.

But what about the other possibilities such as the simultaneous big bangs, cycle of big bangs under a time-dependent universe, and the no-bang at all under the paradoxical timeless universe idea? They are something we never heard of from science writers.

At any rate, the most successful working hypothesis of a time-dependent and expanding universe idea is the big bang. It is not really a bad thing to have a bench mark in probing how the universe started off. However, it may lead to an irrelevant issue at this critical juncture of the intellectual struggle to understand the universe.

If the two so-called competing but seemingly irreconcilable conventional conceptual approaches are philosophical idealism and mechanical philosophical materialism what is the alternate appropriate approach at this stage? The alternate approach at this stage is the New Theory of Knowledge (NTK). If the power tool of the philosophical idealist scientists is determinism to assert a positive opinion that “there-are-no-accidents” for there is a plan, and the power tool of the mechanical philosophical materialist scientists is probabilism that regard “there are accidents” in nature, is there any other alternate tool?

According to the NTK, if it is not deterministic or probabilistic it’s definitely dialectics! Your call!

The only logical explanation of the existence of this enormous galaxy, at such an early stage, is, that the Big Bang was an explosion in an existing Universe, where the "old" burnt out baryonic matter was provided with new energy in the form of hydrogen and helium from the Big Bang.

It's been proposed, not of course proven, that galaxies which supposedly formed before they "should have" -could- have, were already "there". I find this rather stupid for "there" would have been directly destroyed by the massive coupling of matter/antimatter energy release, vaporizing into quarks or less, anything that was "there" at the time of that original expansion. I doubt seriously that expansion would have saved any so called original matter...rather obliterated it completely into whatever was there...an immense amount of energy and sub-sub atomic particles with random form in random space/time.

What lacks is our knowledge. Saying a galaxy exited before it was supposed to exist is an open admission of our failure to understand or an open admission our perception or measurement is way off.

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