From IAC via Manu Garcia: “A lens galaxy”

Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

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Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias – IAC

Lensing galaxy. IAC.

Thanks to the amplified image produced by a gravitational lens and the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), a scientific team from the Polytechnic University of Cartagena and the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC) discovers one of the brightest galaxies to date when the Universe was 20% of its current age.

Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA

According to the theory of General Relativity Einstein, when a ray of light passes near a massive object, the severity of that object attracts photons and deviates from its initial course. This phenomenon, called gravitational lens is the same producing lenses on light rays and acts as a magnifying glass, increasing the size of the object.

Using this effect, a scientific team from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC), led by researcher Anastasio Diaz-Sanchez, of the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT) has discovered a distant galaxy, about 10 billion years light and about 1,000 times brighter than the Milky Way. It is the brightest known submillimeter galaxies called strong emission present in the far infrared. In his characterization he has participated the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) located at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (Garafía, La Palma).

“Thanks to the gravitational lens -said Anastasio Diaz Sánchez, researcher UPCT and first author of the study consists of a cluster of galaxies, which acts like a telescope, the galaxy is 11 times bigger and brighter than which it is actually and produce different images of the same on an arc centered on the mass of the cluster, known as “Einstein ring”. The advantage of this type of amplification is not distorted the spectral properties of light can be studied very distant objects as if they were closer. ”

To find this galaxy, whose discovery was recently published in an article in Astrophysical Journal Letters, a search was realized across the sky combining databases of WISE (NASA) and Planck (ESA) satellites to identify brightest submillimeter galaxies.

NASA/WISE Telescope


This light, amplified by a cluster of nearby galaxies that acts as a lens, gives an even greater apparent brightness of it actually has, and because of this effect might characterize their nature and properties spectroscopy using the GTC.

Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, Garafía, La Palma, Canary I slands, Spain.

Forming stars at high speed.

This galaxy stands out as having a high rate of star formation, ie, is generating stars whose total mass is about 1,000 times the mass of the sun. By way of comparison, the Milky Way form each year stars with a total mass of twice the Sun. In this regard, Susana Iglesias-Groth, astrophysics IAC and co-author, adds: “These types of objects are home to the most powerful star-forming regions known in the universe and the next step will be to study their molecular wealth”.

The fact that the galaxy is so bright, is amplified and has multiple images will delve into its gut, something impossible to carry out otherwise in such remote galaxies.

“In the future, we can do more detailed studies of stellar formation using interferometers as the Northern Extended Millimeter Array (NOEMA / IRAM) in France and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile,” says Helmut Dannerbahuer, researcher IAC has also contributed to this discovery.

IRAM NOEMA interferometer, Located in the French Alpes on the wide and isolated Plateau de Bure at an elevation of 2550 meters

ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

Science paper: Discovery of a very bright submillimeter galaxy at z = 2.0439 by Anastasio Diaz Sanchez, Susana Iglesias Groth, Rafael Rebolo and Helmut Dannerbauer, 2017, ApJ Letter.

See the full article here.

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The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias(IAC) is an international research centre in Spain which comprises:

The Instituto de Astrofísica, the headquarters, which is in La Laguna (Tenerife).
The Centro de Astrofísica en La Palma (CALP)
The Observatorio del Teide (OT), in Izaña (Tenerife).
The Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM), in Garafía (La Palma).

These centres, with all the facilities they bring together, make up the European Northern Observatory(ENO).

The IAC is constituted administratively as a Public Consortium, created by statute in 1982, with involvement from the Spanish Government, the Government of the Canary Islands, the University of La Laguna and Spain’s Science Research Council (CSIC).

The International Scientific Committee (CCI) manages participation in the observatories by institutions from other countries. A Time Allocation Committee (CAT) allocates the observing time reserved for Spain at the telescopes in the IAC’s observatories.

The exceptional quality of the sky over the Canaries for astronomical observations is protected by law. The IAC’s Sky Quality Protection Office (OTPC) regulates the application of the law and its Sky Quality Group continuously monitors the parameters that define observing quality at the IAC Observatories.

The IAC’s research programme includes astrophysical research and technological development projects.

The IAC is also involved in researcher training, university teaching and outreachactivities.

The IAC has devoted much energy to developing technology for the design and construction of a large 10.4 metre diameter telescope, the ( Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC), which is sited at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos.

Gran Telescopio Canarias at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, SpainGran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC