US space agency NASA’s Hubble telescope has captured a faint and ghostly glow of stars that were emitted from ancient galaxies being gravitationally ripped apart billions of years ago.
The NASA astronomers keenly observed the light from the orphaned stars and successfully assembled the forensic evidence suggesting around six galaxies tearing into pieces inside the cluster over a stretch of six billion years.
According to the scientists, the chaos occurred inside a vast collection of nearly 500 galaxies four billion light-years away. This large group of galaxies was nicknamed as ‘Pandora’s Cluster’.
Ignacio Trujillo from The Instituto de Astrofsica de Canarias (IAC), Spain’s Santa Cruz de Tenerife, said, “The Hubble data revealing the ghost light are important steps forward in understanding the evolution of galaxy clusters. It is also amazingly beautiful in that we found the telltale glow by utilizing Hubble’s unique capabilities.”
According to the research group, the combined light of an estimated 200 billion outcast stars contributed too approximately 10 percent of the brightness of the cluster.
Lead study author Mireia Montes, researcher at IAC, said, “The findings are in good agreement with what has been predicted to happen inside massive galaxy clusters.”
The measurements by the Hubble telescope also determined that the phantom stars are rich in heavy elements such as carbon, nitrogen and oxygen.
This illustrates that the scattered stars must be second or third-generation one that are enriched with those elements that are forged in the hearts of the first-generation stars of the universe.
The astronomers also reported that spiral galaxies like the one considered to be torn apart can sustain ongoing formation of star that in turn creates chemically-enriched stars.
The study’s findings were published in the Astrophysical Journal.