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Scientists get best measure of star-forming material in early galaxy clusters

21 July 2017 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have combined observations from several of the world’s most powerful telescopes to carry out one of the largest studies yet of molecular gas — the raw material which fuels star formation throughout the universe — in three of the most distant clusters of galaxies ever found, detected as they appeared when the Universe was only four billion years old.

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Large number of dwarf galaxies discovered in the early universe

25 November 2016 Astronomy Now

Researchers have found a large population of distant dwarf galaxies that could reveal important details about a productive period of star formation in the universe billions of years ago. It is believed that dwarf galaxies played a significant role during the so-called reionisation era in transforming the dark early universe into one that is bright, ionised and transparent.

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Relationship revealed between chemicals found on comets

2 November 2016 Astronomy Now

A new study reveals similarities and relationships between certain types of chemicals found on 30 different comets, which vary widely in their overall composition compared to one another. The research is part of ongoing investigations into these primordial bodies, which contain material largely unchanged from the solar system’s birth some 4.6 billion years ago.

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Using oxygen as a tracer of galactic evolution

7 October 2016 Astronomy Now

A new study comprised of 7,000 galaxies casts light on how young, hot stars ionise oxygen in the early universe and the effects on the evolution of galaxies through time. The study presents the first measurements of the changing strengths of oxygen emission lines from the present day and back to 12.5 billion years ago.

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Galactic fireworks illuminate giant hydrogen blob

21 September 2016 Astronomy Now

An international team of researchers using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) and other telescopes has discovered the power source illuminating a so-called Lyman-alpha Blob — a rare, brightly glowing, and enormous concentration of gas in the distant universe.

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Massive galaxy discovered made almost entirely of dark matter

26 August 2016 Astronomy Now

An international team of astronomers has discovered a massive galaxy that consists of 99.99 percent dark matter. Even though it is relatively nearby, astronomers had missed the galaxy, named Dragonfly 44, for decades because it is very dim. The galaxy lies about 300 million light-years away in the constellation Coma.

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Keck Observatory measures oxygen in galaxy 12 billion years ago

4 August 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have made the first accurate measurement of the abundance of oxygen in a distant galaxy. Oxygen is created inside stars and released into interstellar gas when stars die. Quantifying the amount of oxygen, the third-most abundant chemical element in the universe, is key to understanding how matter cycles in and out of galaxies.