ALMA imaged galaxy SDP.81 of constellation Hydra located 11.7 bn light years away

Researchers have successfully depicted a monstrous galaxy located along the edge of our Universe with unmatched detail. For this mission, the research team used the ALMA or Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter with assistance of a gravitational lens; the lens played the role of a natural telescope.

The natural telescope helped the researchers in revealing the massive stellar cradles in the galaxy. In addition, the process also helped them in identifying a super-massive black hole right at the middle of the foreground galaxy; this is the first time a research team has spotted something like this.

ALMA successfully imaged SDP.81 i.e. the monstrous galaxy during last year’s high-resolution test observation campaign. The galaxy imaged during the October, 2014 campaign is situated at a distance of 11.7 billion light-years from our planet and is a part of a constellation called Hydra.

The role of natural telescope was played by the gravitational lens formed by a huge foreground galaxy located at a distance of 3.4 billion light-years from the planet Earth. This natural telescope successfully magnified the image of the galaxy SDP.81.

Credit: Y. Tamura (The University of Tokyo)/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO) National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

The telescope allowed the researchers to capture ultra-sharp images of the galaxy, which have left astronomers and space researchers around the world absolutely astounded. However, as the images are showcasing a ring-like structure, experts are finding the job of understanding its details extremely difficult.

Researchers from NAOJ (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan) along with Masamune Oguri and Yoichi Tamura, assistant professors representing the University of Tokyo have made the most effective model ever for a gravitational lens.

The research team used this model to reveal that the galaxy SDP.81 is a monstrous galaxy where the rate of star formation is several thousand times higher than the rate of star formation in our home galaxy Milky Way. This marks an important step in the direction of comprehending the process of evolution adopted by the starburst galaxies and the super-massive black holes found in galaxies.

The high-resolution image captured by ALMA allowed researchers to search for the background galaxy’s “central image”. SDP.81’s central image was found to be extremely faint; this forced the research team of conclude that there is a huge black hole in the foreground galaxy; according to the researchers, the black hole is more than 300 times bigger than the Sun.