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With observations made with the Herschel Space Observatory, with the APEX antenna and with the ALMA interferometer it has been possible to observe the formation of a cluster of galaxies in deep space, when the universe was only a tenth as old as it is now. Ivan Oteo, a former student of the University of La Laguna and of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias led the international team that made the discovery. Until now, astronomers thought that these phenomena occurred 3,000 million years after the Big Bang, but this new result shows that they were already happening when the universe was 1,500 million years old.
The European Space Agency (ESA) launched the Herschel Space Observatory in 2009. It was the first observatory that could capture far infrared spectra over the full range. The team of researchers focused on what seemed to be a single cosmic object that is very red in the far infrared, and decided to study it with APEX and ALMA.
APEX - Diameter - Radio - Telescope - Atacama
APEX is a 12m diameter radio telescope in the Atacama desert in Chile, which was set up as a first step in the project ALMA, a group of 66 radiotelescopes of 7m and 22m in the same area. The result was the discovery of a concentration of dusty galaxies in the early universe. They are on the point of merging to form the centre of a future massive galaxy cluster.
Ivan Oteo, the principal investigator on the study, who currently works in the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh and the European Southern Observatory, points out how rare it is to observe this type of phenomena. "We think that the duration of dusty bursts of star formation lasts a relatively short time, "he explains, and...
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