Fragile mega-galaxy is astronomical missing link.
Science Daily — Two hungry young galaxies that collided 11 billion years ago are rapidly forming a massive galaxy about 10 times the size of the Milky Way, according to UC Irvine-led research published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
Capturing the creation of this type of large, short-lived star body is extremely rare -- the equivalent of discovering a missing link between winged dinosaurs and early birds, said the scientists, who relied on the once-powerful Herschel space telescope and observatories around the world. The new mega-galaxy, dubbed HXMM01, "is the brightest, most luminous and most gas-rich submillimeter-bright galaxy merger known," the authors write.
HXMM01 is fading away as fast as it forms, a victim of its own cataclysmic birth. As the two parent galaxies smashed together, they gobbled up huge amounts of hydrogen, emptying that corner of the universe of the star-making gas.
"These galaxies entered a feeding frenzy that would quickly exhaust the food supply in the following hundreds of million years and lead to the new galaxy's slow starvation for the rest of its life," said lead author Hai Fu, a UC Irvine postdoctoral scholar. Keep on reading...