An international team of astronomers recently discovered a galaxy shipyard, a structure believed to be a “proto-cluster” of galaxies on its way to becoming a supercluster of galaxies, nearly 11 billion light-years from Earth. This group of objects appears to be an emergent accumulation of galaxies.

The discovery of this galaxy shipyard could offer a detailed understanding of the assembly of galaxy clusters, the most massive structures in the universe.

Brenda Frye, associate professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona Steward Observatory, said, “We still know very little about protoglumules, in part because they are so faint, too faint to be detected by optical light. At the same time, they are known to radiate intensely at other wavelengths, such as the submillimeter. “

This protocol was originally discovered by the European Space Agency’s Planck telescope as part of an all-sky study. This study showed the protogluster in the far infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum.

While looking through the sample of more than 2,000 structures that could be in the process of becoming clusters, the astronomers came across a cluster of protocols called PHz G237.01 + 42.50, or G237.

More observations were needed to confirm his identity. Using the combined power of the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona and the Subaru Telescope in Japan, the team observed 63 galaxies belonging to the G237 protocol.

Frye said: “You can think of galaxy proto-clusters like G237 as a shipyard of galaxies in which massive galaxies are assembling, only this structure existed at a time when the universe was 3 billion years old. At the same time, genealogy may be closer than you think. Because the universe is homogeneous and the same in all directions, we think that the Milky Way may have docked to a G237-like protocol node when it was very young. “

Observations reveal that star formation in G237 was unrealistically high, at a rate 10,000 times that of the Milky Way. At such speeds, the protogluster would be expected to rapidly exhaust its stellar fuel and subsequently establish itself in a complex system similar to the Virgo supercluster.

Frye said: “Each of the 63 galaxies discovered so far in G237 was like a star factory in overdrive. It is as if the galaxies are working overtime for the assembled stars. The production rate was unsustainable. At that rate, supply chains are expected to break shortly and in a way that permanently closes the galaxy’s shipyard. “

Later, the team discovered that some of what they were seeing came from galaxies unrelated to the protogluster. Still, even after irrelevant observations were removed, the overall rate of star formation remained high, at least 1,000 solar masses per year, according to Polletta. By comparison, the Milky Way produces about one solar mass each year.

Frye said: “The image that we have now reconstructed is that of a successful galaxy shipyard, which is working with high efficiency to assemble galaxies and the stars within them and has a power supply that is more sustainable.”

“We believe that the filaments mediate the transfer of hydrogen gas from the diffuse medium of intergalactic space to these starved, newly formed protogluster structures at the nodes.”

Mari Polletta of the National Institute of Astrophysics in Milan, Italy, said: “Pointing to future research, we are in the process of analyzing more observations in this and other Planck protocols to track the gas that gives birth to these newly formed stars and feeds them. to supermassive stars black holes, to determine their origin and explain the extraordinary activity observed ”.

Freír said, “We hope to combine the data from the Large Binocular Telescope with observations from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which will launch in December.”