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Astronomers detect the most distant oxygen ever discovered

17 May 2018, 13:01 UTC
Astronomers detect the most distant oxygen ever discovered
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Hidden among the huge galaxy cluster MACS J1149.5+223 is MACS1149-JD1, where the most distant oxygen detection originates. Image credit: NASA/ESA/S. Rodney/FrontierSN team/T. Treu/P. Kelly/GLASS team/K. Lotz/Frontier Fields/M. Postman/Z. Levay/STScI
Observations of the extremely distant galaxy MACS1149-JD1 made by the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) and European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) revealed evidence for star formation just 250 million years after the Big Bang. This discovery also marks the most distant oxygen ever detected in the universe as well as the most distant galaxy ever observed by either ALMA or the VLT.
ALMA and an international team of astronomers detected a very faint glow in MACS1149-JD1 that exposed the presence of ionised oxygen. The infrared light detected came from a source on the other side of the universe, and this is a universe that continues to expand. The cosmic expansion stretched the wavelength of the light by more than ten times by the time it reached Earth and found its way to ALMA. Analysis of the signal revealed that the light was emitted 13.3 billion years ago, which is just 500 million years after the Big Bang. This is the most distant oxygen emission ever detected by any telescope ...

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