Astronomers show that galaxies can change shape
THE FIRST EVIDENCE that galaxies can change shape has been found by an international team of astronomers led by Prof Steve Eales from Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy.
“Many people have claimed before that this metamorphosis has occurred, but by combining Herschel and Hubble, we have for the first time been able to accurately measure the extent of this transformation transformation,” ” said Eales. His team published their findings in the journal Monthly Notices Of The Royal Astronomical Society in August.
The team were able to do this after making observations of 10,000 galaxies and classifying them into two types: rotating, flat discs (such as the Milky Way) or large, spherical galaxies. Then, using the Hubble and Herschel telescopes to peer at galaxies much further away – and thus much further back in time – the team were able to compare today’s galaxies with those formed in the aftermath of the Big Bang.
Eales’s team found that 83 per cent of the stars formed immediately after the Big Bang were located in rotating disc galaxies. But today only 49 per cent of stars are found in such galaxies, with the rest found in large,large spherical ones,ones suggestingsuggest many galaxies have undergone major transformations during their lifetimes.
One possible cause for such a transformation could be two disc galaxies merging into one another after colliding. But it’s also thought there may be cases where stars in a disc galaxy are drawn towards the centre and group together to form a spherical galaxy.
New research suggests that galaxies were once more uniform than those we see today