From NASA Spitzer: “Distant Galaxies Grazed on Gas”
Astronomers have discovered that galaxies in the distant, early universe continuously ingested their star-making fuel over long periods of time. This goes against previous theories that the galaxies devoured their fuel in quick bursts after run-ins with other galaxies.
‘ Our study shows the merging of massive galaxies was not the dominant method of galaxy growth in the distant universe,’ said Ranga-Ram Chary of NASA’s Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. ‘ We’re finding this type of galactic cannibalism was rare. Instead, we are seeing evidence for a mechanism of galaxy growth in which a typical galaxy fed itself through a steady stream of gas, making stars at a much faster rate than previously thought.’
Chary is the principal investigator of the research, appearing in the Aug. 1 issue of the Astrophysical Journal. According to his findings, these grazing galaxies fed steadily over periods of hundreds of millions of years and created an unusual amount of plump stars, up to 100 times the mass of our sun.
This split view shows how a normal spiral galaxy around our local universe (left) might have looked back in the distant universe, when astronomers think galaxies would have been filled with larger populations of hot, bright stars (right). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI
See the full article here.
The Spitzer Space Telescope is a NASA mission managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory located on the campus of the California Institute of Technology and part of NASA’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center.