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Record-number of over 200,000 galaxies confirm: Galaxy mergers ignite star bursts – Phys.org, Phys.org

Record-number of over 200,000 galaxies confirm: Galaxy mergers ignite star bursts – Phys.org, Phys.org


    

        

Record-number of over 200,000 galaxies confirm: galaxy mergers ignite star bursts
                Two galaxies in the process of merging. Credit: NASA / ESA / Hubble             

When two galaxies merge, there are brief periods of stellar baby booms. A group of astronomers led by Lingyu Wang (SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research) has now used a sample of over 200, 000 galaxies to confirm that galaxy mergers are the driving force behind star bursts. It is the first time that scientists have used artificial intelligence in a galaxy merger study. The results are published inAstronomy & Astrophysicson October 21 st.                                                

      

One of the most pressing questions in astronomy is how and when stars formed in galaxies. The universe contains hundreds of billions of galaxies, and they come in many shapes and forms. Take, for example, the Sombrero Galaxy, the Black Eye Galaxy, the Whirlpool Galaxy or our own Milky Way, stretching across the entire sky. Each harbors hundreds of billions of stars. How and when did all those stars emerge on the cosmic stage?

A popular hypothesis among astrophysicists is thatgo hand-in-hand with short starburst phases and an increase of around a factor two in star formation over the whole duration of the merger. Mergers would producein the interstellar gas, igniting significant baby booms of stars. The astronomers, including first author William Pearson and co-author Floris van der Tak, have now confirmed this theory by analyzing a record number of over 200, 000 galaxies. They found up to twice the number of star bursts in merging galaxies compared to single galaxies.

    

        

Record-number of over 200,000 galaxies confirm: galaxy mergers ignite star bursts

                Example of two merging galaxies that were identified by AI in this study. Credit: SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research             

Deep learning

Because their database was so large, the team built aalgorithm that taught itself to identify merging galaxies. Pearson says, “The advantage ofis that it improves the reproducibility of our study because the algorithm is consistent in its definitions of a merger. Also, it’s a good preparation for upcoming surveys that will image billions of galaxies. projects such as Galaxy Zoo cannot deal with those numbers. “

It is the first time thathave used AI in a merger study. “This is a milestone in the sense that AI will play an increasingly large role in our field,” says Wang. “But we have to keep in mind that the power of AI is limited to how it is trained. If we feed it a flawed definition of a galaxy merger, then it won’t do its job correctly.”                                                                                                                         


                                        


More information:WJ Pearson, L. Wang, M. Alpaslan, I. Baldry, M. Bilicki, MJI Brown, MW Grootes, BW Holwerd, TD Kitching, S. Kruk, FFS van der Tak, ‘Effect of galaxy mergers on star formation rates’ ,Astronomy & Astrophysics,doi.org/10. 1051 / 0004 – 6361 / 201936337

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                            

Citation:                                                  Record-number of over 200, 000 galaxies confirm: Galaxy mergers ignite star bursts (2019, October 21)                                                  Retrieved 21 October 2019                                                  from https://phys.org/news/2019 – 10 – record-number-galaxies-galaxy-mergers-ignite.html                                             

                                            

                                            This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no                                             part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.                                             

                                        

                                        

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