A group of scientists might have found the most distant galaxy cluster located some eleven-point-one billion light-years away. As reported by Seeker, the celestial wonder is named CL J1001+0220, or CL J1001, and it can be seen forming when the universe was less than three billion years old.
It is not only the most distant, but could also be the oldest galaxy cluster yet seen by scientists. The previous record holder was forming seven-hundred million years ago. In an interview for the NASA website, lead researcher Tao Wang of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission–or, the CEA–said that the galaxy cluster isn’t just remarkable for its distance, it is also going through a unique “growth spurt.”
The core of the CL J1001 has eleven massive galaxies, and nine of which are experiencing fast manufacturing of stars. The research team says the core has stars forming equivalent to over three-thousand Suns–like our own–per year.
Co-author of the research, David Elbaz of the CEA, says that they believe they have captured the galaxy cluster at a “critical stage,” just as it has shifted from a loose collection of galaxies, into a young, but fully formed galaxy cluster.
Based on the discovery, scientists suggest that elliptical galaxies in a galaxy cluster may form their ‘Suns’ during shorter but more violent outburst than elliptical galaxies located outside a cluster. In addition, the paper suggests that much of the star formation in these galaxy clusters happen after galaxies fall onto the cluster and not before.
The team also compared their results to computer simulations of the clusters formation of other similar research, and found that CL J1001 has an unexpectedly high amount of mass in stars compared to the cluster’s total mass. This may suggest that stars build-up is more rapid in distant clusters than the simulations imply, or it may show that clusters like the CL J1001 are rare, and not found in today’s largest galaxy simulations.
Co-author Alexis Finoguenov of Finland’s University of Helsinki says they could learn a lot about the formation of galaxy clusters by studying the region and promises that they will be searching hard for other examples.
The study was published in the Astrophysical Journal, and it is titled ‘Discovery of a galaxy cluster with a violently starbursting core at z=2.506.’