Have you ever wondered what powers the merging galaxies that are 500 million light-years away? In a recent study, a team of researchers from Hiroshima University have identified the “engine” of merging galaxy IIZw096, uncovering the precise location of a bright, energetic source of light. In this blog post, we will explore the findings of this research and why it is so important to understanding the universe.
The team used the James Webb Space Telescope to pinpoint the source of the merging galaxy, which had previously been obscured by cosmic dust. They published their results in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, and found that the source has a radius no larger than 570 light years – a tiny fraction of the size of the merging system, which is about 65,000 light years across. This indicates that the energy is confined to a small space.
As galaxies merge, their stars, planets and other constituents can smash into one another, the debris serving as fodder for new celestial episodes. Most of these galactic collisions only emit infrared light, which has longer wavelengths than light visible to humans and is beyond the scope of human perception. The James Webb Space Telescope has enabled us to observe this merging system in the mid-infrared, and the researchers found that this source outshines everything else in the merging galaxies.
The team also found 12 “clumps” of light, five of which were newly detected with the James Webb Space Telescope. These, Inami said, are emitting mid-infrared colors that suggest they are forming stars. This finding supports more recently developed understandings of the universe and how it changes.
The research conducted by the team from Hiroshima University has opened a door towards identifying heavily dust-obscured sources which cannot be found at shorter wavelengths. Future planned spectroscopic observations of IIZw096 will provide additional information on the nature of the dust, ionized gas, and warm molecular gas in and around the disturbed region of this luminous merging galaxy.
Stay tuned for more updates as the team continues to explore the merging galaxy IIZw096 and uncover the secrets of the universe!