A team of astronomers has discovered a distant massive galaxy cluster with a core bursting with new stars.
The University of California – Riverside’s discovery, made with the help of W. M. Keck Observatory’s MOSFIRE instrument, is the first to show that gigantic galaxies at the centers of massive clusters can grow significantly by feeding off gas stolen from other galaxies.
It is very exciting to have discovered such an interesting object, said University of California’s Gillian Wilson, adding that understanding its nature proved to be a real scientific challenge which required the combined efforts of an international team of astronomers and many of the world’s best telescopes to solve.
The cluster known as “1049+56” was first identified from the UCR-led Spitzer Adaptation of the Red-sequence Cluster Survey, “SpARCS,” which has discovered about 200 new distant galaxy clusters using deep ground-based optical observations combined with Spitzer Space Telescope infrared observations.
What is so unusual about this cluster, SpARCS1049+56, is that it is forming stars at a prodigious rate, more than 800 solar masses per year, Wilson said, adding that to put that in perspective, the Milky Way is forming stars at the rate of only about one solar mass per year.
The study appears in The Astrophysical Journal.