Astronomers Use Hubble Telescope to Study Absorbing Galaxies

A team of international astronomers, led by researchers at the Cosmic Dawn Center in Copenhagen, has utilized the Hubble Space Telescope to study absorbing galaxies. This recent observation is significant because it was not made using the light emitted from the ancient galaxy but rather by the light that the galaxy absorbs. By studying the light that passes through a foreground galaxy, astronomers can deduce various characteristics of the galaxy based on how much light is visible at each wavelength.

The researchers focused on a quasar, a highly luminous galactic core, as the background light source. The challenge lies in trying to detect an absorbing galaxy amidst the bright light emitted by the quasar. Furthermore, determining the nature of emitted light that signifies the absorption qualities of an absorbing galaxy is an even greater challenge.

The team discovered that this new glimpse into a very distant, old galaxy provides an intriguing comparison to our own Milky Way Galaxy. The features found in the missing light indicate similarities between the dust in the foreground galaxy and the dust found in our Milky Way and neighboring galaxies.

In addition to this absorbing galaxy research, the Hubble Space Telescope has unveiled stunning new images and scientific discoveries. It captured a dreamy view of the lenticular galaxy NGC 3156, located about 73 million light-years away from Earth. Lenticular galaxies, like NGC 3156, possess characteristics of both elliptical and spiral galaxies.

Hubble also observed the celestial object Arp 107, a pair of colliding galaxies. This collision has created a unique “bridge” of dust and gas between the two galaxies. Arp 107 is part of a catalog of unusual galaxies called the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, which has been imaged by Hubble as part of an ongoing observation program.

As the Hubble Space Telescope enters its 33rd year in space, it continues to provide breathtaking images and invaluable scientific insights into the cosmos.

– “Stephan’s Quintet” Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team
– arXiv paper: “The galaxy counterpart and environment of the dusty Damped Lyman-alpha Absorber at z=2.226 towards Q1218+0832”