Catastrophic event halted birth of stars, say Durham researchers

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Washington, Mar.10 (ANI): Scientists at Durham University's Department of Physics have found evidence of a catastrophic event that they believe was responsible for halting the birth of stars in a galaxy in the early Universe.

Their results appear in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The Royal Society and Royal Astronomical Society funded the research, which says that the massive galaxy, SMM J1237+6203, underwent a series of blasts trillions of times more powerful than any caused by an atomic bomb.

The blasts happened every second for millions of years, according to the scientists.

The explosions scattered the gas needed to form new stars by helping it escape the gravitational pull of the galaxy, effectively regulating its development.

The Durham-led team believes the huge surge of energy was caused by either the outflow of debris from the galaxy's black hole or from powerful winds generated by dying stars exploding as supernovae.

SMM J1237+6203 lies in the direction of the constellation Ursa Major and is so far away that we see it as it appeared 10 billion years ago, or three billion years after the Big Bang, when the Universe was only one quarter of its present age.

Using the Gemini Near-Infrared Integral Field Spectrometer (NIFS) to measure the speed of material in the galaxy, they found huge outflows powerful enough to help star-forming debris escape the galaxy's gravitational pull. They believe the colossal energies generated by these outflows of energy were enough to suppress any further star formation in the galaxy.

The Durham-led team now plans to study other massive forming galaxies in the early Universe to see if they display similar characteristics. (ANI)

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