Collaborative Research: Astronomy with CARMA (University of Maryland College Park)
Collaborative Research: Astronomy with CARMA (University of California-Berkeley)
Collaborative Research: Astronomy with CARMA (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Collaborative Research: Astronomy with CARMA (California Institute of Technology)
Collaborative Research: Astronomy with CARMA (University of Chicago)
The NSF-funded Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA) has measured the mass of one of the most distant known galaxy clusters. The cluster, at a distance of nearly 10 billion light years, is the most massive ever found at such an extreme distance.
The findings push the frontier of our knowledge of truly massive clusters back by 1 billion years, providing astronomers with the earliest look yet at these important structures. They can now study the most massive structures over 10 billion years, or 75 percent of the universe's life span.
Galaxy clusters are the most massive bound structures in the universe, taking billions of years to form. Along with galaxy groups, they are the sites in the present-day universe in which the bulk of the stars that were ever created currently reside. By identifying the very distant evolutionary precursors to present-day massive clusters, astronomers can study the formation and evolution of galaxies (and their stars) in these extreme environments over entire lifetimes.
The galaxy cluster in this work was originally discovered using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. CARMA detected the cluster as a shadow against the glow of the cosmic microwave background, known as the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (SZ) effect. The depth of the observed SZ effect is independent of the distance to the cluster, making it a powerful tool for CARMA to investigate massive clusters in the early universe. The determination of an accurate mass for this galaxy cluster enabled by the SZ measurement allows astronomers to connect it, in an evolutionary sense, with its descendent massive clusters in the nearby universe.
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