A team of astronomers has found an important new example of a very rare type of galaxy that may yield valuable insight on how galaxies developed in the early Universe. The new discovery technique promises to give astronomers many more examples of this important and mysterious type of galaxy.
The strange, new galaxy is called J1649+2635 and is located nearly 800 million light-years from Earth. It’s a spiral galaxy, like our own Milky Way, but possesses prominent jets of subatomic particles that are propelled outward from its core at nearly the speed of light.
“The conventional wisdom is that such jets come only from elliptical galaxies that formed through the merger of spirals,” said Minnie Mao, one of the researchers, in a news release. “We don’t know how spirals can have these large jets.”
J1649+2635 is only the fourth jet-emitting spiral galaxy discovered so far. The first was found in 2003, when astronomers combined a radio-telescope image from the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) and a visible-light image of the same object from the Hubble Space Telescope.
The second was revealed in 2011 by images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the VLA, and the third, found earlier this year, also was discovered by combining radio and visible-light images.
“In order to figure out how these jets can be produced by the ‘wrong’ kind of galaxy, we realized we needed to find more of them,” Mao said.
Jets such as those seen coming from J1649+2635 are propelled by the gravitational energy of a supermassive black hole at the core of the galaxy. Material pulled toward the black hole forms a rapidly-rotating disk, and particles are accelerated outward along the poles of the disk.
“This galaxy presents us with many mysteries,” said Mao. We want to know how it became such a strange beast. Did it have a unique type of merger that preserved its spiral structure? Was it an elliptical that had another collision that made it re-grow spiral arms? Is its unique character the result of interaction with its environment? We will study it further, but in addition, we need to see if there are more like it.”
Abstract Study Source: http://goo.gl/P6fYfW.