Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Astrophysicists Discover Most Distant Galaxy Known Is Not As Far Away As Once Believed

Date:
November 30, 2000
Source:
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Summary:
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory astrophysicists Wil Van Breugel and Wim De Vries, with colleagues from several universities and observatories, have stripped a galaxy near the Big Dipper, commonly known as STIS 123627+621755, of its title as the "Most Distant Object Known" by showing that the initial distance estimate was incorrect.

LIVERMORE, Calif. — Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory astrophysicists Wil Van Breugel and Wim De Vries, with colleagues from several universities and observatories, have stripped a galaxy near the Big Dipper, commonly known as STIS 123627+621755, of its title as the "Most Distant Object Known" by showing that the initial distance estimate was incorrect.

The findings, which will be published in the Nov. 30 issue of Nature, are based on very deep images obtained using the world’s largest W. M. Keck Observatory’s 10-m telescopes in Hawaii earlier this year. A team of SUNY-Stony Brook astronomers, led by Hsiao-Wen Chen, reported observations of this same object using the NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Based on the extremely red colors of STIS 123627+621755 and a single emission line in its spectrum, thought to be hydrogen, the team estimated that this was a galaxy at an approximate distance of 12.5 billion light years. This implied that the galaxy should essentially be invisible in the optical and relatively bright at near-infrared wavelengths.

However, these predictions were not confirmed by the deep images obtained by van Breugel and collaborators. In fact, the galaxy was detected in optical light at a level that was 100 times brighter than expected and remained invisible in the infrared. The galaxy was much bluer than initially thought. The faint emission line observed by Chen’s team is therefore more likely to be based on oxygen instead of hydrogen gas. This resulted in a much smaller distance estimate of 9.8 billion light years and the re-classification of the object as a small dwarf galaxy, similar to Earth’s neighboring Magellanic Clouds visible from the Southern Hemisphere.

"At LLNL we have been at the forefront of distant galaxy searches for many years, and we realize that sometimes a difficult measurement may turn out to be in error," van Breugel said. "We hope that our own record of a galaxy, which emits powerful radio waves at a distance of 12.3 billion light years, will stand the test of time."

The ‘hunt’ for the most distant galaxies has been important since the first major telescopes were built. It led Edwin Hubble in 1924 to conclude that the Universe expands, and later resulted in the now commonly held belief that the Universe started with a hyper energetic "Big Bang" about 13.1 billion years ago. With much more sensitive detectors and larger telescopes now available, the most distant galaxies are beacons for measuring how galaxies and the Universe formed. Even with modern instruments the most distant galaxies are very difficult to detect and occasional misidentifications can occur.

With the estimated distance of 12.5 billion light years for STIS 123627+621755 no longer correct, the new titleholder for the most distant object known belongs to a quasar, an active black hole at 12.4 billion light years. The race to find the most distant objects in the Universe is very tight. It depends not only on accurate measurements, but also on assumptions of how we think the "Big Bang" occurred.

Besides Van Breugel and De Vries of LLNL, the team also includes Daniel Stern and Peter Eisenhardt of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Hyron Spinrad and Steve Dawson of the University of California Berkeley; Adam Stanford of the University of California Davis and Arjun Dey of the Kitt Peak National Observatory.

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory, with a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "Astrophysicists Discover Most Distant Galaxy Known Is Not As Far Away As Once Believed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001130073942.htm>.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. (2000, November 30). Astrophysicists Discover Most Distant Galaxy Known Is Not As Far Away As Once Believed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001130073942.htm
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "Astrophysicists Discover Most Distant Galaxy Known Is Not As Far Away As Once Believed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001130073942.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

NASA (Oct. 17, 2014) Power spacewalk, MAVEN’s “First Light”, Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean

Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) The smallest of Saturn's main moons, Mimas, wobbles as it orbits. Research reveals it might be due to a global ocean underneath its icy surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins