Collision Of Two Massive Galaxies 13 Billion Years Ago

Collision Of The Two Massive Galaxies 13 Billion Years AgoImage Source: Pixabay

Everything that is happening in the universe, especially so far away, seems fascinating, including the collision of two massive galaxies that are hyper-luminous. That collision occurred right in front of astronomers’ eyes, and scientists say it reveals new information about the way everything in the universe was created.

“Discovering a hyper-luminous starburst galaxy is an extraordinary feat, but discovering two–this close to each other–is amazing,” said Dominik Riechers (as quoted by Futurity), assistant professor of astronomy and lead author on the new research study, which was published in the Astrophysical Journal. “It’s nearly 13 billion light-years away, and in its frenzied star-forming action, we may be seeing the most extreme galaxy merger known.”

This event occurred in the Southern Hemisphere’s Dorado constellation, which is also known as the swordfish. The ADFS-27 galactic pair took place about 12.6 billion light-years away from Earth, which means that the two galaxies formed when Universe was about one billion years old.

In the published paper entitled “Rise of the Titans: A Dusty, Hyper-luminous ‘870-micron Riser’ Galaxy at z~6,” Dominik A. Riechers, doctoral candidate T.K. Daisy Leung, and their colleagues report their findings as they saw the colliding galaxies. They are likely the most massive systems ever captured in the universe.

The wondrous event was observed with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a high-elevation radio telescope in Chile. The merger picked up by the telescope started strong with ongoing star formation, which led to the growth of a “Titan” galaxy, according to the paper. According to Leung, the pair of two massive galaxies was likely formed during the early cosmic time.

“These massive systems in the early universe are showing us snapshots of their early evolution,” she said in the paper.

“Finding these galaxies — about 30,000 light-years apart — helps astronomers to understand how very extreme structures form, as they continue to birth stars and become even more massive,” added Reichers. “These galactic progenitors help us to understand massive galaxies of the present day, as we’ve tried to understand how these actually form. In other words, this discovery is helping astronomers to understand the timeline of the cosmos.”

Riechers added that they originally discovered the systems using the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory. However, it appeared as a red dot.

“Galaxies usually look bluer or greener. This one popped out because of its color. It was literally really red, which means it’s a brighter object at longer wavelengths and it is farther away than most galaxies,” Riechers explained.

Sometime earlier, the same group of astronomers used the ALMA radio telescope to examine the red dot which allowed them to see two massive galaxies with about 50 times the amount of star-forming gas that the Milky Way had. Riechers said that this huge amount of gas will convert into new stars quickly, while the pair of merging galaxies will produce stars at a “breakneck pace,” which is about 1,000 times faster than the Milky Way.

Leung added that the ALMA telescope has “revolutionized” our comprehension of young galaxies thanks to its unprecedented resolution.

“We now can see distant galaxies in exquisite detail, as we were able to uncover the compact, starburst nature of this merger pair–known only as a dusty blob in the good old days.”

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About the Author

Danica Simic
Danica Simic has been writing ever since she was a child. Before she started writing for ValueWalk she was reviewing laptops, headphones and gaming equipment as well as writing articles about astronomy and game development. Danica is a student of applied and computational physics while also studying software and data engineering. Her hobbies include reading, swimming, drawing and gaming whenever she has free time. - Email her at

2 Comments on "Collision Of Two Massive Galaxies 13 Billion Years Ago"

  1. McAllister Pulswaithe | Nov 15, 2017, 1:10 pm at 1:10 pm |

    Why don’t they show us an actual image of this collision, instead of a hyped-up super colossal titanic massive description? All we get is an artist’s depiction of how fantastic it must have been. I’d be happy with an actual image, even though it would be underwhelming. The hype is for what – more funding? To me it’s just more click bait.

  2. “The ADFS-27 galactic pair takes place around 12.6 billion light-years
    away. Astronomers saw the two galaxies in their merging. However, it
    took the light from the galaxies about 13 million years to reach us.”

    So the light from these galaxies traveled a 1000 times faster than the speed of light? Either Einstein was wrong or you are.

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