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ALMA Captures Distant Colliding Galaxy on Verge of ‘Dying’

14 Jan 2021, 09:51 UTC
ALMA Captures Distant Colliding Galaxy on Verge of ‘Dying’ ESO/M. Kornmesser
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IMAGE: Artist’s representation of the ID2299 galaxy. CREDIT: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Maybe it’s not the year to talk about the death of a galaxy, but this next story intrigued me. Everything dies apparently, even galaxies. I mean, we talk about the heat death of the universe a lot, but I think this is the first time we’ve taken one step down from that.

In new work presented in Nature Astronomy, researchers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to watch a galaxy eject a massive amount of its cold gas content. The galaxy is called ID2299, and it’s about 9 billion light-years away from us, and we’re seeing it when the universe was only 4.5 billion years old. Space-time is mind-boggling at this scale.

Anyway, the gas is being ejected at a rate of 10000 Suns’ worth of mass every year, removing 46% of the total cold gas from the galaxy. And the galaxy is also undergoing extremely fast star formation, and calculations show that it will run out of gas in a few tens of million years. That’s very soon in astronomical terms.

The image we’re sharing is an artist’s impression of the galaxy, and you may notice that one ...

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