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“Teenage galaxies” are extremely hot and have growth spurts

Research carried out with the help of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), released on Monday (20), shows that “teenage galaxies”, which formed between 2 and 3 billion years after the Big Bang, are extremely hot and behave similarly to human teenagers.

In the analyses, the data collected by scientists shows that they can reach temperatures exceeding 13,350ºC, while the hottest pockets with galaxies usually reach a maximum of 9,700ºC.

The study conducted by a team of astrophysicists led by Northwestern University, in the United States, concluded that adolescent galaxies show growth spurts and undergo transformations that define the rest of their lives. Observing them can help uncover information about their origin and explain why the Milky Way is the way it is, for example.

“Using JWST, our program targets adolescent galaxies when they were going through a complicated period of growth spurts and changes. Teenagers often have experiences that determine their trajectories into adulthood. For galaxies, it’s the same thing,” said Allison Strom, a researcher in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Northwestern University.

According to Strom, the fact that teenage galaxies are hotter “is just further evidence of how different the galaxies probably were when they were younger.”

During the last northern hemisphere summer (which occurred between July and September of this year), researchers led by Strom used JWST to observe 33 different teenage galaxies for 30 hours straight. Next, the group combined the spectra of 23 of them to try to find a pattern.

“It is significantly deeper and more detailed than any spectrum we could collect with ground-based telescopes of galaxies from this period in the history of the universe,” Strom explained.

In the study, eight elements were observed: hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, oxygen, silicon, sulfur, argon and nickel. Strom even expected to see heavy elements, but says she was surprised when she managed to identify the presence of nickel, which is rare and difficult to see.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine we would see nickel,” Strom said. “Even in nearby galaxies, people don’t observe this. There must be enough element present in a galaxy and the right conditions to observe it. Nobody ever talks about watching the nickel. The elements need to glow in gas for us to see them. So for us to see nickel, there might be something unique about the stars in galaxies.”

See also: Telescope discovers galaxies from the beginning of the universe

Source: CNN Brasil

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