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UMass Astronomers Discover the Origins of Galaxies Date Back 11 Billion Years


AMHERST, Mass. (WGGB) – UMass scientists are working with a team funded by NASA to study galaxies. They are researching the origins of galaxies and how they form and evolve.

Their study finds that the true shape of galaxies date back 11 billion years, much earlier than what was thought before.

BoMee Lee is a doctorate student at UMass and has been working with her advisor, Mauro Giavalisco, on the research. The project is called “The CANDELS Survey,” which is the largest project in the history of the Hubble Telescope. The scientists need special permission to use this very special piece of technology.

“The first thing is that I was really excited I could use the Hubble space telescope there is a lot of competition to be able to use it,” says Lee.

They used the high resolution images from the telescope to analyze the size, shape, and colors of galaxies to determine how they were formed. This is all a part of what is called The Hubble Sequence. This classifies galaxies according to their morphology and star-forming activity.

“The universe is not quite event 14 billion years old, so this differentiation between dead spheroids and active star-forming discs is something that happens very rapidly in the history of the universe,” explains Giavalisco.

Lee explains how the study of astronomy has interested her for a long time, “From my childhood I was really interested in galaxy formation and evolution; we didn’t know how galaxies evolved.”

With the research they are completing now, they are well on their way of discovering the evolution of galaxies from 11 billion years ago to the present day.

For more information on the project and blog, you can visit the CANDELS public website.

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