- » News
Dark Galaxies of the Early Universe Spotted for the First TimePress Release 11 July 2012
For the first time, "dark galaxies" an early phase of galaxy formation, predicted by theory but unobserved until now may have been detected. Dark galaxies are gas-rich but nevertheless contain very few stars. Using ESO's Very Large Telescope, an international team including researchers from KICC believe that they have detected these elusive objects by observing them glowing as they are illuminated by a bright quasar.
This deep image shows the region of the sky around the bright quasar HE0109-3518. The quasar is near the centre of the image. The energetic radiation of the quasar makes dark galaxies glow, helping astronomers to understand the early stages of galaxy formation. Dark galaxies are essentially devoid of stars, therefore they don't emit enough star light to be detected by the current generation of telescopes. This makes them virtually impossible to observe unless they are illuminated by an external light source like a nearby quasar. The image combines observations from the Very Large Telescope, tuned to detect the fluorescent emissions produced by the quasar illuminating the dark galaxies, with colour data from the Digitized Sky Survey 2.. Image Credit ESO, Digitized Sky Survey 2 and S. Cantalupo (UCSC)
Martin Haehnelt (KICC), member of the science team states "We have been absolutely delighted to get a first glimpse of the small building blocks of normal galaxies in this way."