Astronomers clarify origin of elusive ultradiffuse galaxies


On the left, one of many ultra-diffuse galaxies that was analyzed within the simulation. On the proper, the picture of the DF2 galaxy, which is nearly clear. Credit: ESA/Hubble.

As their identify suggests, ultradiffuse galaxies, or UDGs, are dwarf galaxies whose stars are unfold out over an enormous area, leading to extraordinarily low floor brightness, making them very troublesome to detect. Several questions on UDGs stay unanswered: How did these dwarfs find yourself so prolonged? Are their dark matter halos—the halos of invisible matter surrounding the galaxies—particular?

Now a global workforce of astronomers, co-led by Laura Sales, an astronomer on the University of California, Riverside, experiences in Nature Astronomy that it has used refined simulations to detect a couple of “quenched” UDGs in low-density environments within the universe. A quenched galaxy is one that doesn’t kind stars.

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“What we have detected is at odds with theories of galaxy formation since quenched dwarfs are required to be in clusters or group environments in order to get their gas removed and stop forming stars,” mentioned Sales, an affiliate professor of physics and astronomy. “But the quenched UDGs we detected are isolated. We were able to identify a few of these quenched UDGs in the field and trace their evolution backward in time to show they originated in backsplash orbits.”

Here, “in the field” refers to galaxies remoted in quieter environments and never in a bunch or cluster surroundings. Sales defined {that a} backsplash galaxy is an object that appears like an remoted galaxy as we speak however previously was a satellite of a extra huge system—just like a comet, which visits our sun periodically, however spends the majority of its journey in isolation, removed from a lot of the solar system.

“Isolated galaxies and satellite galaxies have different properties because the physics of their evolution is quite different,” she mentioned. “These backsplash galaxies are intriguing because they share properties with the population of satellites in the system to which they once belonged, but today they are observed to be isolated from the system.”

Astronomers explain origin of elusive ultradiffuse galaxies
Image exhibits the autumn of a blue ultradiffuse galaxy right into a galaxy system and its subsequent ejection as a crimson ultradiffuse galaxy (having already misplaced its gasoline). Credit: Vanina Rodriguez.

Dwarf galaxies are small galaxies that include wherever from 100 million to a couple billion stars. In distinction, the Milky Way has 200 billion to 400 billion stars. While all UDGs are dwarf galaxies, all dwarf galaxies will not be UDGs. For instance, at related luminosity, dwarfs present a really giant vary of sizes, from compact to diffuse. UDGs are the tail finish of most prolonged objects at a given luminosity. A UDG has the stellar content material of a dwarf galaxy, 10-100 occasions smaller than the Milky Way. But its measurement is corresponding to the Milky Way, giving it the extraordinarily low floor brightness that makes it particular.

Sales defined that the dark matter halo of a dwarf galaxy has a mass not less than 10 occasions smaller than the Milky Way, and the dimensions scales equally. UDGs, nonetheless, break this rule and present a radial extension corresponding to that of a lot bigger galaxies.

“One of the popular theories to explain this was that UDGs are ‘failed Milky Ways,’ meaning they were destined to be galaxies like our own Milky Way but somehow failed to form stars,” mentioned José A. Benavides, a graduate student on the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Astronomy in Argentina and the primary creator of the analysis paper. “We now know that this scenario cannot explain all UDGs. So theoretical models are arising where more than one formation mechanism may be able to form these ultradiffuse objects.”

According to Sales, the worth of the brand new work is twofold. First, the simulation utilized by the researchers, known as TNG50, efficiently predicted UDGs with traits just like noticed UDGs. Second, the researchers discovered a couple of uncommon quenched UDGs for which they don’t have any formation mechanism.

“Using TNG50 as a ‘time machine’ to see how the UDGs got to where they are, we found these objects were satellites several billion years before but got expelled into a very elliptical orbit and look isolated today,” she mentioned.

Animation exhibits a rotation round one of many simulated ultradiffuse galaxies in TNG50. Red signifies stars, and the blue/white colours present the gasoline content material. Credit: Jose Benavides.

The researchers additionally report that in keeping with their simulations, quenched UDGs can generally make up 25% of an ultradiffuse inhabitants of galaxies. In observations, nonetheless, this proportion is far smaller.

“This means a lot of dwarf galaxies lurking in the dark may have remained undetected to our telescopes,” Sales mentioned. “We hope our results will inspire new strategies for surveying the low-luminosity universe, which would allow for a complete census of this population of dwarf galaxies.”

The examine is the primary to resolve the myriad of environments—from remoted dwarfs to dwarfs in teams and clusters—essential to detect UDGs, and with high-enough decision to check their morphology and construction.

Next, the analysis workforce will proceed its examine of UDGs in TNG50 simulations to higher perceive why these galaxies are so prolonged in comparison with different dwarf galaxies with the identical stellar content material. The researchers will use the Keck Telescope in Hawaii, one of the vital highly effective telescopes on the earth, to measure the dark matter content material of UDGs within the Virgo cluster, the closest galaxy cluster to Earth.

“Future telescopes, such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope or the Roman Space Telescope, come online in the next five to 10 years with capabilities of detecting many more of these intriguing UDGs,” Sales mentioned.

The analysis paper is titled “Quiescent ultra-diffuse galaxies in the field originating from backsplash orbits.”

Dozens of new ultra-diffuse galaxies discovered in Abell 2744

More info:
Quiescent ultra-diffuse galaxies within the subject originating from backsplash orbits, Nature Astronomy (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01458-1 ,

Astronomers clarify origin of elusive ultradiffuse galaxies (2021, September 6)
retrieved 6 September 2021

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