Astronomers have found that our galaxy exploded a stellar “baby bloom” 10 billion years ago giving birth to stars in a frenzy our sun is a late bloomer at five billions years ago.
Sun was born when the dwindling star formation in the Milky Way’s explosion reached a trickle but it’s late birth helped growth our solar planets with elements which are conducive to habitable conditions, according to the latest study of the galaxy and its birth.
From vast data collected over the decades, researchers are able to assemble an album of 2,000 snapshots of Milky Way-like galaxies, giving vivid picture of how they formed over the past 10 billion years to current majestic spiral galaxies.
The multi-wavelength study collected from ultraviolet to infrared light, combined findings from NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer telescopes, the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory, besides ground-based telescopes such as the Magellan Baade Telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.
“This study allows us to see what the Milky Way may have looked like in the past,” said Casey Papovich, lead author of the study from Texas A&M University in College Station.
He said the study revealed how these galaxies underwent a big change in the mass of its stars over the past 10 billion years and above all, most of that growth happened within the first 5 billion years of their birth.
For the study, astronomers chose the Milky Way-like progenitors by sifting through 24,000 galaxies from catalogues of the Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey (CANDELS), combined with Hubble findings and the FourStar Galaxy Evolution Survey (ZFOURGE) made by the Magellan telescope.
Using the ZFOURGE, CANDELS, Spitzer near-infrared data, the Hubble images from the CANDELS survey also provided structural details about galaxy sizes and their evolution. Far-infrared light studies from Spitzer and Herschel helped the astronomers determine the star-formation rate for the study.
To Papovich, it means “we’re able to understand the growth of the ‘average’ galaxy with the mass of a Milky Way galaxy.”