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Galaxies exhibit increasing level of chaos as they age

Messenger Online

Published: 11:32, 8 April 2024

Galaxies exhibit increasing level of chaos as they age

Photo : Collected

A project led by the Australian research center ASTRO 3D has recently highlighted age as one of the most crucial drivers in how stars orbit within galaxies, suggesting that the arrangement of stars gets messier over time.

In their study recently published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society journal, a group of international researchers analyzed observations by the SAMI Galaxy Survey, which covered over 3,000 galaxies across a large range of environments.

Using a partial correlation analysis, they consistently found that age or specific star formation rate is the primary parameter correlating with spin.

"We do know that age is affected by the environment. If a galaxy falls into a dense environment, it will tend to shut down the star formation. So galaxies in denser environments are, on average, older," Jesse van de Sande, an astronomer from the University of New South Wales and second author of the study, noted in a statement released on Monday (8 April).

"The point of our analysis is that it's not living in dense environments that reduce their spin, it's the fact that they're older," said the expert.

Young galaxies tend to have stars rotating in an orderly pattern, but in older ones, the motion of stars can get more turbulent.

While most previous works indicated that environment or mass plays a more important role, the new study by ASTRO 3D was regarded as instrumental in updating people's understanding of the chaos in the galactic structure.

According to the statement, the Hector Galaxy Survey will help the ASTRO 3D team expand their work using a new instrument on the Anglo-Australian Telescope.