Feb. 28, 2001 Feb. 22, 2001 -- Gaze into the vastness of the universe this evening and in all likelihood those galaxies look just as they did five billion years ago, and they didn't get to their locations by random chance, says U of T astronomy professor Raymond Carlberg.
In the earliest moments after the big bang, waves were created in the universe, Carlberg explains. When a wave became large enough, it eventually collapsed under its own gravity to create what is called a dark halo. The gravitational force of the dark halo sucked in and compressed the gas particles around it, and it is in this environment that galaxies are bred, running contrary to the notion that galaxies - and their resulting stars and planets - form randomly in the universe.
By measuring clusters of galaxies from the present time back to when the universe was about five billion years younger, Carlberg and his team of researchers found that these clusters experienced little, if any, change. Once the drama of the initial burst of star formation is over, galaxies settle into peaceful and essentially stable clusters. This runs counter to some prevailing theories that suggest galaxy clusters are prone to rapid change.
"We now know that the clustering of galaxies did not happen at random and changed little over the past five billion years. Cosmologists now need to use new telescopes to go into even earlier times to see the dark halos just as they are collapsing and beginning to draw together the gas that creates a young galaxy."
Carlberg's findings will be published in The Astrophysical Journal.
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