Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Space NASA

Newly Discovered Young Galaxy Creates 4,000 Stars Per Year 81

Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have found a galaxy producing an average of up to 4,000 stars per year. They contrast this with the Milky Way, which only produces an average of 10 each year. Nicknamed "Baby Boom," it is a young starburst galaxy, and its stellar birth rate conflicts with a commonly accepted model for the growth of a galaxy. Quoting: "'The question now is whether the majority of the very most massive galaxies form very early in the universe like the Baby Boom galaxy, or whether this is an exceptional case. Answering this question will help us determine to what degree the Hierarchical Model of galaxy formation still holds true,' [said Peter Capak of NASA's Spitzer Science Center] 'The incredible star-formation activity we have observed suggests that we may be witnessing, for the first time, the formation of one of the most massive elliptical galaxies in the universe,' said co-author Nick Scoville of Caltech, the principal investigator of the Cosmic Evolution Survey,
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Newly Discovered Young Galaxy Creates 4,000 Stars Per Year

Comments Filter:
  • by Aetuneo ( 1130295 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @12:19AM (#24161757) Homepage
    "Rare 'Star-Making Machine' Found in Distant Universe" is the title of it, on NASA's website. The first paragraph makes it clear that it's intended to be "in the distant reaches of the universe," but it's still strange phrasing. Really got my hopes up there for a bit.

    Also, to be more specific, this Galaxy was creating 4,000 stars per year 12.3 Billion years ago, when the universe was only 1.3 Billion years old. Also, they don't know the number to be 4,000 stars: it's in the range of 1,000 to 4,000 stars per year, based on how bright it is.
  • by Kligat ( 1244968 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @12:21AM (#24161773)
    If general relativity says that a clock ticks faster the deeper it is in a gravity well, and at the beginning of the universe all that matter was closer together, maybe time just flew faster for star formation. Was the value of "year" used in the article, to put a new spin on an old phrase, adjusted for inflation?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Robert1 ( 513674 )

      That's really insightful. I hope mods don't miss this comment.

      • by SpaceLifeForm ( 228190 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @12:45AM (#24161905)

        Except that it would be slower, not faster.

        • by mischief herald ( 1278400 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @01:35AM (#24162103)

          Actually, clocks "run" faster in gravitational wells. For proof, just think of the equivalence principle [], and clocks as sources of periodic light, or at least just think of light as a series of wavefronts (helps in understanding gravitational redshift too!). A good source on this is "Gravity: An Introduction to Einstein's General Relativity" by James Hartle.

          It is also important to remember the principle of proper time [] when considering the formation of these stars. Ignoring special relativity concerns for a second, clocks only run at relative different rates if they are at different gravitational potentials (the only way to measure gravitational potential anyway). So if the entire early universe were all at nearly the same gravitational potential, then all matter would be experiencing the same "proper" time, and things such as star formation rates would still be comparable; so this case examined here is still, probably, exceptional.

          For further reading and a great intro to the formation of the universe and gravity and such, check out the book I mentioned above and "Introduction to Cosmology" by Barbara Ryden. I am not an expert-yet (grad school in a bit!)- but the cosmo. book is a great read for anyone interested and the gravity book is great for anyone with a little background in general and special relativity and some advanced linear algebra. Hope this helps!

          • by dmcq ( 809030 )
            Actually I believe clocks run slower in gravitational wells. In the case of a black hole time effectively stops so it looks like something entering freezes at the boundary and fades away.
            • Sorry, you are correct. What the proof I mentioned shows is that observers with a clock at a lower gravitational potential (deeper in a gravitational well) receive pulses from an emitter with a clock at a higher gravitational potential faster than the rate at which they were emitted. That is, if somebody counts the natural numbers at a rate of 1 number/sec, then somebody at a lower gravitational potential will say they are counting >1 number/sec (interval between each number is less than 1 second), and

          • by Bengie ( 1121981 )

            I looked up "equivalence principle" and it talks about how everything, no matter it's mass/density, will accelerate at the same speed in a vaccuum

    • There is definitely something odd with the timings in these deep space stories. If this event occurred in a 1.3 Billion years old universe, then our own point in this universe (or the point of whatever would become the milkyway later on) could've been only 2.6 Billion light years away from it max.
      So the wave front of this event should've passed us 5.2 Billion years later at most.
      The fact that we see this NOW means that either the light was delayed quite a bit (did it take a round trip?), or relativity is
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kagura ( 843695 )

        In physical cosmology, cosmic inflation [] is the idea that the nascent universe passed through a phase of exponential expansion that was driven by a negative-pressure vacuum energy density.

        Also read Wikipedia's article on the Big Bang [], since it's directly related. Both pages above are easy to read for amateurs with no serious physics background.

  • Clearly.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2008 @12:21AM (#24161779)

    Older galaxies are outsourcing their star production needs to this one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No, no, this is clearly the Mormon galaxy.

      • by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) * on Saturday July 12, 2008 @01:24AM (#24162061) Homepage Journal
        No, it's the Mexican Galaxy. Will somebody please rocket some birth control out to it before it overcrowds us and drives down our wages?
        • Re:Clearly.... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2008 @02:11AM (#24162237)

          So using Mormon as the subject of a joke will get a -1 Troll while the same joke with Mexican get a +4 Funny?

          • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

            So using Mormon as the subject of a joke will get a -1 Troll while the same joke with Mexican get a +4 Funny?

            Let see, so a joke about a Mexican Mormon will get you about a 2 rating.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Sponge Bath ( 413667 )

            Maybe Mexicans have a better sense of humor than Mormons.

          • Using Black will get you a +1 Insightful.
          • by Blufar ( 1178819 )
            It's OK to make fun of foreigners: Southpark Episode 205, Conjoined Fetus Lady []
        • Well... youre just ignorant.

          The birth rate of Mexico as of today is 1.8 kids per woman (latest figure of TODAY -heard it in the news, here in Mexico).

          In the US, according to: [] - this, its 2.1 kids per woman.

          Its interesting that youre "half hispanic" and dont even know what youre talking about.

          Youll retort, naturally (being the hispa-neo-redneck that you are), that the US birth rate is probably that high due to the Mexicans living there, which will further expose

        • by ps2os2 ( 1216366 )
          First send them a book so they can qualify for citizenship in the federation. Beam me up Scotty:-)
    • Transport must be a bitch...
  • OMG! (Score:5, Funny)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @12:27AM (#24161809)
    That's faster than American Idol!
  • by objekt ( 232270 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @12:30AM (#24161833) Homepage

    "My God, it's full of stars!"

  • by LeafOnTheWind ( 1066228 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @12:32AM (#24161845)

    If I read the article right, this would seem to say that we are witnessing this galaxy forming approximately 12.3 billion light years ago. As to the answer of whether or not this galaxy is exceptional, I guess the most interesting answer may be if this galaxy is 'currently' producing stars at the same rate as the Milky Way (~10 per year). Unfortunately, the only way I can see to figure that out is to wait another 12.3 billion years. I don't know about you guys, but I'm starting stocking up on beer now.

    • That would be 12.3 billion "years" ago :) Damn typos.

      • by LordKronos ( 470910 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @06:58AM (#24163255)

        galaxy forming approximately 12.3 billion light years ago

        That would be 12.3 billion "years" ago :) Damn typos.

        I light know how you feel. I'm always light making typos where light I accidentally type the word light light.

        • by Anpheus ( 908711 )

          Us cosmologists actually order a special light keyboard (a custom Model M, of course) that has a "light " key.

          It's kind of unfortunate light though because it's right next to the light spacebar.

          Oh well... It sure does make typing light papers easier.

    • Re:Familiar Model? (Score:4, Informative)

      by jd ( 1658 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Saturday July 12, 2008 @12:55AM (#24161943) Homepage Journal
      If - and this is a big if - the current model for galaxy formation is wrong, then this could have all kinds of consequences to cosmological theories. For example, the current estimate for the amount of dark matter (or, indeed, the need for it) is based on what would be needed for galaxies to work under the current models. There are a lot of interdependencies in cosmology. Another consequence is that they'll need to revisit estimates for the number of rogue stars that lie outside of galaxies. Given the frequency of galactic collisions, and given the new, revised estimate for star formation, you should expect to find a lot of rogue stars maybe a billion light-years closer than this galaxy.
  • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @12:35AM (#24161863)

    They contrast this with the Milky Way, which only produces an average of 10 each year.

    I live in the most boring galaxy!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kesuki ( 321456 )

      Don't worry, in 5 billion years, when we collide with Andromeda, we'll be in a very exciting galaxy... i don't think scientists really know what happens when 2 galaxies collide, but the coolest thing that could happen is 2 habituated solar systems, coming within easy radio range of one another.

      I believe a while back scientists were predicting that the formation of large gas giants, and small, earth like planets was more common than earlier thought, thus improving the odds of extra terrestrial life.

      now if on

      • by jonfr ( 888673 ) *

        How says that we aren't already colliding with Andromeda galaxy ? After all, the light we are getting is 2.5 million years old at current time.

        The collision might have started long time ago, we would not even notice from our point of view of space.

        • You're mixing (5) billions with (2.5) millions. I'm sorry, but this does not work that way. ;)

          If we were colliding the delay could only be a maximum of 100,000 years, which is the time the light takes to go trough the whole galaxy.

          • by jonfr ( 888673 ) *

            Actually, I am using the Euro standard while you are using the U.S one.

            The wiki says, like every other text valid book on the subject.

            "The Andromeda Galaxy (IPA: /ænËdrÉ'mÉ(TM)dÉ(TM)/, also known as Messier 31, M31, or NGC 224; often referred to as the Great Andromeda Nebula in older texts) is a spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years away[4] in the constellation Andromeda."


      • by flewp ( 458359 )
        Actually, from what I've read two galaxies colliding isn't as exciting as one may think. Because the stars within the galaxies are pretty spread out, two galaxies will mostly just pass right through each other. Their overall structures would get warped by gravity and all, but it wouldn't be the star crashing demolition derby that many people may expect.
      • by smoker2 ( 750216 )

        ...but the coolest thing that could happen is 2 habituated solar systems, coming within easy radio range of one another.

        I think you meant inhabited. Habituate is the process of habitation. Your sentence could mean that the 2 solar systems *were* populated, whereas inhabited means they *are* populated.

      • by da_flo ( 1029770 )

        I don't have much faith in humans surviving that long, population growth problems, limited resources, the possibility of 'real' atomic war...

        Not to mention that in 5 billion years, Earth will be totally vitrified by a red giant (namely, the Sun).

        • by kesuki ( 321456 )

          "Not to mention that in 5 billion years, Earth will be totally vitrified by a red giant (namely, the Sun)."

          nobody actually knows exactly when that will happen, it's purely hypothesis without any real data, other than the energy output of the sun, and a few recorded events that happened billions of years ago, in far flung parts of the milky way that happened to reach earth while scientists were figuring out what happens to yellow stars in decline.

          it could come sooner, it could come later, because the sun is

      • i don't think scientists really know what happens when 2 galaxies collide

        Astronomers refer to the event as an "intergalactic rodeo".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Kepler Satellite Team [] is rejoicing

  • Amazing!!! I believe the meaning of this is called progress. For every theory we disprove, we become a little more wiser. I am all for a renaissance of the mind! Congratulations!
  • Social Security to be bust in 3 generations.

    President announces plan to stem the growth of illegal star migration by building a giant wall between neighboring galaxies.

    More at 10.

  • Creating 4,000 Stars per year? Why that's more than Hollywood! With all this far outsourcing, does that mean Brittney, Paris and Lindsay will soon be out of jobs? Those damn illegal aliens!
  • Yes one star for every 2 hours and change... All life in that galaxy is probably fly based. In the relativity theory you could say that an hour in our galaxy is relative to a couple of bilion years over there.. But in all fairness: finally those shows that try to relate the lifetime of earth to a 12 hours period are outdone by a galaxy.
  • maybe there are several gravity wells between our galaxy and the other one that accelerates light at such a pace that we are seeing the whole history of that galaxy at once.
    Wasn't there a post here recently that spoke of the speed of light having been faster in the past? Which would mean that the maximum speed of light is not a constant, and can thus be accelerated.

    • IIRC, that model works like quantum tunneling and would require the speed of light to drop everywhere in the universe at the same moment without decelerating to the lower velocity. I think I read somewhere that if that happened, (and IMHO the model makes a lot of sense, but I don't care one way or the other) you wouldn't be able to see it, since everything slows down relative to everything else. However, you could see the difference if you compared the speed of light to previously known values.

      As an aside, I have read in a few different places that there is some evidence that the speed of light is exponentially decaying.
  • The reason is obvious: God wasted too much time dealing with those troublesome Milky Way sinners and got behind on galaxy construction. To catch up, he has to crank up the speed.

  • Either it's producing UP TO 4000 stars or it's producing AN AVERAGE of 4000 stars, surely?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by owlstead ( 636356 )

      Not necessarily. They obviously know that it won't produce an exact number of 4K stars per year. So they are trying to guess the average, and 4K seems to be the upper limit of that guess.

      Reporter: How many stars are produced by this galaxy per year?
      Pinhead: Oh, I don't know, my guess is about 1K to 4K stars per year, but certainly not over 4K.
      Reporter: Thanks, we'll use the upper limit if you don't mind.

  • Hasn't this galaxy heard of CONTRACEPTIVES?
  • ...we've found Magrathea.
  • by mattwarden ( 699984 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @05:01PM (#24166477)

    It took God a whole day to create our sun. Now he's creating them somewhere else at a rate of 11 per day. Did the homosexuals piss Him off again or something?

  • I wonder if that galaxy is as neurotic as Kate Gosselin [] is? Do I lose my geek card for loving that show?

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!