Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Green Pea galaxies could help astronomers understand early universe

Date:
April 3, 2013
Source:
University of Michigan
Summary:
The rare Green Pea galaxies discovered by the general public in 2007 could help confirm astronomers' understanding of reionization, a pivotal stage in the evolution of the early universe.

A montage of the six Green Pea galaxies that University of Michigan astronomy researchers studied.
Credit: Image credit: Anne Jaskot

The rare Green Pea galaxies discovered by the general public in 2007 could help confirm astronomers' understanding of reionization, a pivotal stage in the evolution of the early universe, say University of Michigan researchers.

Reionization occurred a few hundred million years after the Big Bang as the first stars were turning on and forming the first galaxies. During this period, the space between the galaxies changed from an opaque, neutral fog to a transparent charged plasma, as it is today. Plasma is gas that's electrically charged.

As for how this happened, the prevailing theory holds that massive stars in the early galaxies produced an abundance of high-energy ultraviolet light that escaped into intergalactic space. There, the UV light interacted with the neutral hydrogen gas it met, blasting electrons off the hydrogen atoms and leaving behind a plasma of negatively charged electrons and positively charged hydrogen ions.

"We think this is what happened but when we looked at galaxies nearby, the high-energy radiation doesn't appear to make it out. There's been a push to find some galaxies that show signs of radiation escaping," said Anne Jaskot, a doctoral student in astronomy.

Jaskot and Sally Oey, an associate professor of astronomy in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, have found that the Green Peas could hold that evidence. Their findings are published in the current edition of the Astrophysical Journal.

"The Green Peas are compact, highly star-forming galaxies that are very similar to the early galaxies in the universe," Jaskot said. "Our analysis shows they may be leaking ionizing radiation."

The researchers focused on six of the most intensely star-forming Green Pea galaxies, which are between one billion and five billion light years away. They studied their emission lines as observed by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Emission lines show how light interacts with matter, and in this case, they helped the astronomers understand the relationship between the stars and gas in these galaxies.

The emission lines told Jaskot and Oey how much light the galaxies absorbed. Then, to determine how much light was there to start with, they ran models to estimate, for example, how old the galaxies are and how many stars they contain. The galaxies, the researchers determined, produced more radiation than the researchers detected, so they infer that some of it must have escaped.

"An analogy might be if you have a tablecloth and you spill something on it. If you see the cloth has been stained all the way to the edges, there's a good chance it also spilled onto the floor," Jaskot said. "We're looking at the gas like the tablecloth and seeing how much light it has absorbed. It has absorbed a lot of light. We're seeing that the galaxy is saturated with it and there's probably some extra that spilled off the edges."

Jaskot says the Green Peas are exciting candidates to help astronomers understand a major milestone in the development of the cosmos 13 billion years ago.

The paper is called "The Origin and Optical Depth of Ionizing Radiation in the 'Green Pea' Galaxies. The research is funded by the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. E. Jaskot, M. S. Oey. The Origin and Optical Depth of Ionizing Radiation in the "Green Pea" Galaxies. Astrophysical Journal, 2013 [link]

Cite This Page:

University of Michigan. "Green Pea galaxies could help astronomers understand early universe." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130403141446.htm>.
University of Michigan. (2013, April 3). Green Pea galaxies could help astronomers understand early universe. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130403141446.htm
University of Michigan. "Green Pea galaxies could help astronomers understand early universe." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130403141446.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

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
This Week @ NASA, July 18, 2014

This Week @ NASA, July 18, 2014

NASA (July 18, 2014) Apollo 11 yesterday, Next Giant Leap tomorrow, Science instruments for Europa mission, and more... Video provided by NASA
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