Discovery in a Galaxy Over 12 Billion Light-Years Away – Reveals How Element Found in Our Bones Is Forged in the Universe

The artist’s impression shows NGP-190387, a dusty star-forming galaxy that is so far away from us that it took more than 12 billion years for its light to reach us. ALMA’s observations indicate the presence of fluorine in the gas cloud of NGP-190387. So far, this is the farthest detection of the element in a star-forming galaxy, and we have seen it occur only 1.4 billion years after the Big Bang, which is about 10% of the current age of the universe. This discovery provides new clues for how stars forge fluorine, indicating that short-lived stars called Wolf-Rayet are most likely to be their birthplaces. Image credit: ESO / M. Kornmesser

A new discovery reveals how fluoride is formed in the universe. Fluoride is a fluoride element found in our bones and teeth. Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) in collaboration with the European Southern Observatory (ESO), a team of astronomers detected this element in a galaxy so far away that its light has cost more than 12 billion years. Contact us. This is the first time fluorine has been detected in such a distant star-forming galaxy.

“We all know fluoride because the toothpaste we use every day contains fluoride,” said Maximilian Franco of the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom, who led today (November 4, 2021) in The new research published in the journal Nature. astronomy. Like most of the elements around us, fluorine is produced inside stars, but until now, we did not know how this element was produced. “We don’t even know which stars in the universe produce the most fluorine!”

A new discovery from the ALMA Observatory in collaboration with ESO reveals how fluorine is formed in the universe. Learn more about this discovery and how it relates to our dental hygiene in this summary video. Credit: European Southern Observatory

Franco and his collaborators saw fluorine (in the form of hydrogen fluoride) in the large gas cloud of the distant galaxy NGP-190387. The universe we see is only 1.4 billion years old, which is about 10% of the current age. Age. Since stars expel the elements they formed in their cores when they reach the end of their lives, this detection means that fluorine-producing stars must exist and die soon.

The research team believes that Wolf-Rayet stars are the most likely source of fluorine, and their life span is only a few million years, which is a blink of an eye in the history of the universe. They said they needed to explain the amount of hydrogen fluoride detected by the team. Wolf-Rayet stars were previously thought to be a possible source of fluorine in the universe, but astronomers did not know until now how important they were in the production of this element in the early universe.

Wolf-Rayet Star Artist’s Impression
This artist’s impression shows the bright core of a Wolf–Rayet star surrounded by a nebula of material which has been expelled by the star itself. Wolf–Rayet stars are hot and massive with lifespans of a few million years. They are thought to end in dramatic supernova explosions, ejecting the elements forged in their cores into the cosmos. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

“We have proved that Wolf-Rayet stars are one of the most massive stars known. They explode violently when they reach the end of life, which helps us maintain good dental health to some extent!” Franco joked .

In addition to these stars, other scenarios regarding how fluorine is produced and discharged have also been proposed in the past. An example includes the pulsation of evolutionary giant stars several times the mass of the sun, called asymptotic giant branch stars. But the team believes that these scenarios (some of which take billions of years to occur) may not fully explain the fluorine content in NGP-190387.

“For this galaxy, it only took tens of millions or hundreds of millions of years for the fluorine content to be comparable to the fluorine content found in the stars of the Milky Way, and the Milky Way has a history of 13.5 billion years. This is a completely different story. Unexpected result,” said Chiaki Kobayashi, a professor at the University of Hertfordshire. “Our measurement adds a whole new limit to the source of fluorine, which has been studied for two decades.”

Wide-Field View Around Galaxy NGP-190387
This visible-light, wide-field image of the area of the sky where the remote galaxy NGP–190387 is found was created from images in the Digitized Sky Survey 2. The galaxy, located so far away its light took over 12 billion years to reach us, lies close to the center of the image. Although it is not visible in this picture, many other, much closer, galaxies can be seen in this wide-field view. Credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2, Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin

The discovery in NGP-190387 marks the first detection of fluorine outside the Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies. Astronomers have previously seen this element in distant quasars, these bright objects powered by supermassive black holes in the centers of some galaxies. But early in the history of the universe, this element has never been observed in star-forming galaxies.

The team’s detection of fluorine was accidentally discovered through the use of space-based and ground-based observatories. NGP-190387 was originally discovered by the Herschel Space Observatory of the European Space Agency, and was later observed by ALMA in Chile. It is unusually bright due to its distance. ALMA data confirms that part of the anomalous luminosity of NGP-190387 is caused by another known massive galaxy, which is located between NGP-190387 and the Earth, very close to the line of sight. This huge galaxy amplifies the light observed by Franco and his collaborators, allowing them to detect the faint radiation emitted by fluorine in NGP-190387 billions of years ago.

The European Southern Observatory’s new flagship project under construction in Chile, the extremely large telescope (ELT)’s future research on NGP-190387 may reveal more secrets about this galaxy. “ALMA is sensitive to radiation from cold interstellar gas and dust,” said Chentao Yang, a researcher at ESO in Chile. “With ELT, we will be able to obtain important information about the star content of the galaxy through direct starlight observation of NGP-190387.”

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