Now here is a cool find by NASA: the most distant galaxy cluster just after it was formed. It was a brief yet vital part in a galaxy's evolution. Scientists used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and data gathered from other telescopes on the ground as well as space to see the scene.
The galaxy cluster has a nice name: CL J1001+0220. It is situated about 11.1 billion light years away from our earth. It can give insights into the early stages of a galaxy's evolution.
"This galaxy cluster isn't just remarkable for its distance, it's also going through an amazing growth spurt unlike any we've ever seen," said Tao Wang of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), who led the NASA study.
A galaxy cluster consists of hundreds to thousands of galaxies knit together with gravity.
At the core of the newly discovered galaxy cluster, scientists have found 11 huge galaxies, of which nine are spawning new stars. The rate of the formation of stars at its core is just like more than 3,000 suns every year. This rate is unusually high for a galaxy cluster, especially one located so far away.
Earlier, just some loose collections called protoclusters were seen at further distances. But now the study author David Elbaz, from the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), explained that they had managed to capture the cluster even as it changed from a loose group of galaxies into a fully formed one.
"It provides evidence that the main phase of massive galaxy passivization will take place after galaxies accrete onto the cluster, providing new insights into massive cluster formation at early epochs," Elbaz and colleagues wrote about the cluster's discovery.
"The large integrated stellar mass at such high redshift challenges our understanding of massive cluster formation."
Other observatories that also helped in the research included NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope, along with the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton and Herschel Space Observatory.
The study was published in the Astrophysical Journal on Aug. 30.