back to article MONSTER GALAXY spotted hiding behind IMMENSE BLACK HOLE

Astro-boffins have detailed a "monstrous" galaxy near the edge of the charted universe, and have done so to an unprecedented degree of detail using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA), with the assistance of a natural telescopic phenomenon known as a gravitational lens. According to the National Institutes …

  1. TRT Silver badge

    Just so I understand this right...

    the image is compressed spatially by the gravity of the super-massive black hole, so appears crisp, and it shows a galaxy churning out stars at a rate many times that of our own... but has anyone corrected for any temporal compression that may have occurred as a result of a lensing effect known to affect both space and time? I mean, this isn't my field, so I'm just thinking out loud here...

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Just so I understand this right...

      I would guess that any temporal effect there might be on a photon when it zips past a 100,000ly galaxy is going to be pretty insignificant in comparison to a) those 100,000 years and b) the 11,000,000,000 years of the rest of its journey.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just so I understand this right...

      ok, let's try it again .... that galaxy is big but far away ....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just so I understand this right...

        > that galaxy is big but far away ....

        Aaah ... fair play Ted, according to the scale on the photo it's only a couple of inches across.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just so I understand this right...

          Maybe galaxies aren't really far away, they're just smaller than we thought. And a bit redder.

      2. Benchops

        Re: Just so I understand this right...

        far, /far/ away?

        DDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA da da da daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

        etc

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just so I understand this right...

      Temporal compression does not happen. Llight traverses paths that are bent relative to an euclidean space that one would naively extend through the "massive" region.

  2. AlterTheDeal

    Science is awesome. Nice work, astro-boffins.

  3. NotWorkAdmin

    Minor correction

    "SDP.81 is an enormous galaxy" should really be "SDP.81 was an enormous galaxy 11.7 billion ago".

    Pretty cool nonetheless.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But even so...

      11.7 billion light years - that is so mind bogglingly difficult to comprehend.

      Bollocks to what the religious people think and scientists can't say anything unless there is pure evidence, but there _has_ to be other life in this universe, it being so huge.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: But even so...

        Define life.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: But even so...

          #ifndef LIFE

          #define LIFE

          #endif

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Define life.

          How about "self-maintaining thermodynamic disequilibrium" or "self-maintaining order" or "self-maintaining organization." (Note: absolutely no reference to "water" or "carbon" or some such implementation details needed)

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Define life.

            How about "self-maintaining thermodynamic disequilibrium"

            Not really accurate. Life exists on Earth because the biosphere is under a net inflow of energy. The thermodynamic gradient isn't "self-maintaining" - it's maintained by the big ball of plasma in the sky, radioactive decay in the ground, residual energy from the planet's warm mantle and spinning core, and a few other less-important sources.

            Where such an inflow exists, there must be increasing complexity to dissipate the gradient. The resulting structures might take a form that some group of judges (take your pick: biologists, philosophers, people in general...) would call "life" or "lifelike". For most observers there's probably some stage of complexity where they'd say, yeah, that's life. But the criteria will differ from person to person.

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Minor correction

      uhm... how long do galaxies last?

      And if its like anything else... like our waist lines as we age, it too is expanding.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: uhm... how long do galaxies last?

        In my house, about 22 seconds per chunk.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Minor correction

      "SDP.81 is an enormous galaxy" should really be "SDP.81 was an enormous galaxy 11.7 billion ago".

      For most purposes the distinction is meaningless. Simultaneity over distances where C is a dominating factor has no useful meaning: if no event "there" can have any effect "here" for 11.7 by, then whether something there happened 11.7 bya rather than "now" has no material consequences. It's sometimes an important point when considering the consistency of the physical model (for example, to keep causality intact in that model), but generally it's just a philosophical fillip.

  4. Chemist

    "I would guess that any temporal effect there might be on a photon when it zips past a 100,000ly galaxy..."

    AFAIK photons don't experience time. It's all now for photons - emitted and absorbed at the same instant even if billions of light years separate emitter and absorber. Google it. Strange place this universe.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Absolutely correct. Photons are the handshakes of Minkovsky space.

  5. Florida1920
    Paris Hilton

    Any sign of MH370 back there?

    Paris, 'cause she popularized the 90-degree nosedive.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Any sign of MH370 back there?

      What

  6. frank ly

    re 'no restaurant'

    Actually, they'd be cleaning up and closing down at the Big Bang Burger Chef.

  7. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Looking at the photo, I couldn't help noticing that there are *two* identical rings - I expect the scientists failed to spot the second one in their excitement. And judging by the scale shown on that image, the two rings are about 6 inches across, so I guess anything that is 6 inches can be described as being a galactic size ...

    1. TonyK

      Cynic, I'm sure you are just joshing us, but for the benefit of less informed readers, 1" means 1 arc-second.

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Boffin

      ok....

      "... so I guess anything that is 6 inches can be described as being a galactic size ..."

      if that's what you have to tell yourself .... and your girlfriend ...

      sorry, couldn't resist.

  8. jr424242

    Huge? It's only a few inches across

    Look at the scale in the photo inset.

    The entire civilisation might be swallowed by a small dog....

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Science: Eleventy billions!

    Bronze age myths: 0 (still)

  10. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Boffin

    Pixels?

    I've asked this before but did not get a definitive answer.

    ALMA has 66 dishes. Is that image composed of 66 pixels or does each dish scan a tiny piece of sky to increase the resolution?

    I find it hard to believe that a dish could be aimed so accurately.

    I looked here but it did not enlighten me.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atacama_Large_Millimeter_Array

    1. Chris 239

      Re: Pixels?

      In astronomy the resolution is called resolving power and is dependent not on the number of pixels of your sensor (which is a radio antenna) but on the diameter of your telescope relative to the wavelength you are observing and the funny thing is an array of telescopes can be treated as one big telescope. They all look at the same patch of sky and some fancy electronics/computing does the aiming/image reconstruction. Look up Inteferometry.

      1. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge

        Re: Pixels? @Chris239

        "Look up Inteferometry."

        Thanks, that is a word that had not occurred to me.

  11. Kracula
    Alien

    I guess Interstellar was right ...

    Some interesting places out there in space, but because of the time-space-gravity relations, even if we find a way to travel there, it's going to be a one way ticket.

  12. ravenviz

    Interstellar?

    I suspect the accolades should go to Albert Einstein & Kip Thorne amongst others.

  13. Pete4000uk

    Our location...

    Where are we in the known universe? Are we near the middle or what??

    1. Ashton Black

      Re: Our location...

      Everywhere is "the middle" to all observers since spacetime is expanding for everyone is all directions.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Our location...

      (Not sure if that's a sincere question or a joke...)

      By definition, we're exactly in the middle of our Hubble Volume, which is the same as the knowable universe. Whatever we find out about the knowable universe becomes part of the "known universe".

      And nothing we do can ever have an effect outside our Hubble Volume, so "knowable universe" is a suitable proxy for "entire universe" for nearly all purposes.

      That's one possible answer to the question of "where are we in the universe"?

      Another interpretation is "given what we believe we know about the universe, or think is the most plausible among various theories, how are we situated among much-larger-scale structures"? I don't really follow the field, but the latest I've seen is that the Milky Way is part of a galactic supercluster astrophysicists call "Laniakea", which is really quite large, and that is part of a larger arrangement of superclusters that's so big that "where are we inside it" isn't meaningful.

  14. James Wheeler

    Great example of what ALMA can do

    30 milli-arcsecond resolution of 1mm wavelengths is very impressive. That's better that Hubble's highest resolution, as I understand it, and of course Hubble has no instruments that can see at 1mm wavelengths.

    In effect, the closer elliptical galaxy is the objective lens of a really big refracting telescope, and ALMA is the eyepiece. Too bad we can't point it in a different direction.

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