For the first time, astronomers are witnessing the formation of a massive cluster of galaxies. The observations collected by the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA) reveal that at least 14 distant galaxies will soon merge and possibly create one of the most massive structures in the modern universe.
The galactic stacking, known as the protocluster, is located about 12,400 million light-years away and existed when the universe was only 1,400 million years old. The cluster of galaxies was generally formed three billion years after the Big Bang. Finding such a massive group in the early universe is definitely a surprise.
"Having trapped a massive cluster of galaxies in agony training is spectacular in itself," said Scott Chapman, an astrophysicist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. "But the fact that this happens so early in the history of the universe poses a formidable challenge to our current understanding of how structures are formed in the universe."
The protocluster is called SPT2349-56. of the galaxies involved in the galactic attack are filled with star-forming material and produce stars up to 1,000 times faster than our Milky Way galaxy.
The galaxy clusters are held together by gravity.They contain hundreds of thousands of galaxies , large amounts of dark matter and black holes and continue to grow as they attract more material over time.The mass of a cluster of galaxies is comparable to a million million suns and its temperature can reach more than one million degrees. Computer models suggest that SPT2349-56 formed faster than most of the protoclusters in the universe.
"How this set of galaxies it got so big so fast is a mystery, it was not built gradually over billions of years, since astronomers could xpect, "said co-author Tim Miller of Yale University. "This discovery provides an incredible opportunity to study how galaxy clusters and their massive galaxies united in these extreme environments."
The protocluster was first observed in 2010 when a faint spot of light was seen emerging from the massive structure. The follow-up observations of ALMA and other telescopes confirmed that the structure is actually a protocluster at a very early stage of development.
"ALMA gave us, for the first time, a clear starting point to predict the evolution of a cluster of galaxies," said Scott Chapman. "Over time, the 14 galaxies we observe will stop forming stars and collide and merge into a single giant galaxy."