It has recently come to light that astronomers have observed a rare phenomenon in space – the death of a distant galaxy. The study around this phenomenon is published in Nature Astronomy where the research is led by an international team of astronomers from Durham University.
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A science release published by ESO (European Southern Observatory) reveals details about this space phenomenon. “Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), in which the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is a partner, astronomers have seen a galaxy ejecting nearly half of its star-forming gas. This ejection is happening at a startling rate, equivalent to 10 000 Suns-worth of gas a year — the galaxy is rapidly losing its fuel to make new stars,” states the press release. According to the team, this space event was triggered by a collision with another galaxy and it has made astronomers analyze how galaxies stop bringing new stars to life.
“This is the first time we have observed a typical massive star-forming galaxy in the distant Universe about to ‘die’ because of a massive cold gas ejection,” says Annagrazia Puglisi, lead researcher on the new study, from the Durham University, UK, and the Saclay Nuclear Research Centre (CEA-Saclay), France.
The press release further states that the event behind the spectacular gas loss is a collision between two galaxies, which eventually merged to form “ID2299”. Also, the clue that pointed the scientists towards this scenario was the association of the ejected gas with a “tidal tail”, which are described as elongated streams of stars and gas extending into interstellar space that results when two galaxies merge. This “tidal tail” is usually too faint to see in distant galaxies.
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“Our study suggests that gas ejections can be produced by mergers and that winds and tidal tails can appear very similar,” says study co-author Emanuele Daddi of CEA-Saclay. “This might lead us to revise our understanding of how galaxies ‘die’,” added Daddi.