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Death of a Distant Galaxy observed by Astronomers

An artist's interpretation of ID2299. Image: European Southern Observatory.

A group of astronomers have observed the death of a far-away galaxy in an event they state is significant in understanding the grow and formation of galaxies can be affected by galaxy collisions. The study was led by scientists out of Durham University, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA)-Saclay and the University of Paris-Saclay.

Intense activity has been noted in what the astronomers are calling a “disruptive event,” that occurred in a distant starburst galaxy called ID2299.

What exactly happened?

Basically, starburst galaxies form quicker than other types of galaxies because they convert gas into stars quickly. As ID2299 was forming, it collided with another galaxy and excess gas was expelled from the impact. Since star formation depends on gas, and the collision resulted in a great loss of gas, the galaxy was doomed to an inevitable death as it failed to produce stars.

Why is this observation so important?

From previous studies of other similar galaxies, the star formation rate (SFR) has been observed to increase steadily from z=0 to 4. Star formation rate gauges how fast a galaxy converts gas to form stars. However, this recent study saw a the major event occur at z=1.4, suggesting a big shift in galaxy formation due to a catastrophic event that prevented the galaxy from forming, resulting in it’s eventual death.

Of the published findings, lead author Dr. Annagrazia Puglisi of Durham University’s Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy commented:

Our research provides compelling evidence that the gas being flung from ID2299 is likely to have been tidally ejected because of the merger between two gas rich spiral galaxies. The gravitational interaction between two galaxies can thus provide sufficient angular momentum to kick out part of the gas into the galaxy surroundings. This suggests that mergers are also capable of altering the future evolution of a galaxy by limiting its ability to form stars over millions of years and deserve more investigation when thinking about the factors that limit galaxy growth.

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