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 July 25, 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 July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

AP (July 23, 2014) The Progress 56 cargo ship launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday. NASA says it will deliver cargo and crew supplies to the International Space Station. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

AP (July 22, 2014) A Russian Soyuz cargo-carrying spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station on Monday. The craft is due to undergo about ten days of engineering tests before it burns up in the Earth's atmosphere. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

AP (July 21, 2014) NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? 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:
from the past week

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