A 10-year-long survey of tens of thousands of galaxies made using the Magellan Baade Telescope at Carnegie's Las Campanas Observatory in Chile has revealed how the current structure of the universe was formed. It was designed to study the relationship between galaxy growth and the surrounding environment over the last 9 billion years when modern galaxies' appearances were defined. The study was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and it reveals how gravity played an important role in the current form of the universe billions of years ago.
"The first galaxies were formed a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, which started the universe as a hot, murky soup of extremely energetic particles. As this material expanded outward from the initial explosion, it cooled, and the particles coalesced into neutral hydrogen gas. Some patches were denser than others and, eventually, their gravity overcame the universe's outward trajectory, and the material collapsed inward, forming the first clumps of structure in the cosmos," the study said.
The research was led by Carnegie's Daniel Kelson and also included Carnegie's Louis Abramson, Shannon Patel, Stephen Shectman, Alan Dressler, Patrick McCarthy, and John S. Mulchaey, as well as Rik Williams, who now works for Uber Technologies.
"A key goal of our survey was to count up the mass present in stars found in an enormous selection of distant galaxies and then use this information to formulate a new approach to understanding how structure formed in the universe," Kelson explained. Kelson said that the research would not have been possible without the resources provided by the Carnegie such as the Magellan Baade Telescope and he also thanked NSF's National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory for providing additional infrared images.
(Image Credit: AP)