An Unattended Light Investigated
Astronomers have studied the faint glow given off by stars that have been removed from their galaxies and now exist as cosmic orphans between galaxies for the first time. A team used a new technique to study this so-called “intra-group light” and explain how displaced stars were dispersed throughout a group of galaxies. Because these galaxies are seen as they were 2.5 billion years ago, the research could provide insight into cosmic evolution. “We know almost nothing about intra-group light,” University of South Wales school of physics scientist, Cristina Martínez-Lombilla, said in a statement. “Unveiling the amount and origin of the intra-group light provides a fossil record of all the interactions a group of galaxies has undergone and gives a holistic view of the system’s interaction history,” Martínez-Lombilla added.
“The analysis of the intra-group light showed us that these stars are younger and less rich in heavy elements than the stars that belong to the surrounding galaxies,” Martínez-Lombilla said. “This suggests that the intra-group light is produced by stars that have been stripped from their host galaxies and have been wandering through the space between the galaxies for a relatively short period of time.”
The findings provide new insights into the history of galaxy interactions and the evolution of the universe. “Unveiling the quantity and origin of the intra-group light allows us to study the history of interactions between galaxies in a group, giving us a more complete view of their evolution,” Martínez-Lombilla said.
The research was published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The team’s findings suggest that the intra-group stars were once part of larger galaxies, but were stripped away by the gravitational forces of massive satellite galaxies. This process, called tidal stripping, occurs when a satellite galaxy passes near a larger galaxy and pulls its stars with it.
“These events happened a long time ago, and the galaxies we’re observing are so far away that we’re seeing them as they were 2.5 billion years ago,” Martínez-Lombilla said. “By studying the properties of the intra-group stars, we were able to trace their origins and understand how they came to exist as cosmic orphans between galaxies.”
The research provides new insights into the history of galaxy interactions and the evolution of the universe. By studying the intra-group light, astronomers can learn about the interactions that have occurred between galaxies in a group, giving them a more complete view of their evolution. The findings were published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The research team developed a special image treatment process to study the faint light emitted by intra-group stars. “The brightest parts of the intra-group light are around 50 times fainter than the darkest night sky on Earth, making them extremely difficult to detect,” Martínez-Lombilla said.
To overcome this challenge, the team developed their own method for viewing this faint light. “We have developed a tailored image treatment procedure that allows us to analyze the faintest structures in the universe,” Martínez-Lombilla explained. “Our method follows the standard steps for studying faint structures in astronomical images, including 2D modeling and the removal of all light except that coming from the intra-group light.”
The team’s success in detecting and studying intra-group light opens up new possibilities for exploring the universe and learning about its evolution. “This is just the beginning of our research,” Martínez-Lombilla said. “We will continue to study intra-group light and its properties, in order to learn more about the history of interactions between galaxies.”
The research team plans to use their image treatment method to study a larger sample of galaxy groupings, in order to better understand the typical properties of intra-group light and the systems of galaxies in which it is found. “We can then look at statistics and learn more about the formation and evolution of intra-group light and these common systems of galaxy groups,” Martínez-Lombilla said.
The team’s method is based on the open-source Python coding language, which makes it highly modular and easily adaptable to different data sets from a variety of telescopes. This will be useful for preparing for the next generation of deep all-sky surveys, such as those to be conducted with the Euclid space telescope and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) with the Vera C. Rubin Observatory.
“Our work is an important step forward in the study of faint structures in the universe,” Martínez-Lombilla said. “We hope to continue our research and learn even more about the history of interactions between galaxies.”
This article has been sourced from the site or sites cited in the references. This content, created without disturbing the content of the original article, is subject to Astrafizik.com content permissions. Astrafizik.com and original sources are allowed to be used by 3rd parties provided that they are referenced.