Massive cluster found with intense star formation by UCR astronomers

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An international group of astrophysicists made a rare find, they discovered a huge cluster of colliding galaxies sheltering a core bursting with new stars.

“It is very exciting to have discovered such an interesting object,” said Gillian Wilson, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Riverside and a member of the research team. “Understanding its nature proved to be a real scientific challenge which required the combined efforts of an international team of astronomers and many of the world’s best telescopes to solve. What is so unusual about this cluster, SpARCS1049+56, is that it is forming stars at a prodigious rate, more than 800 solar masses per year,” Wilson said. “To put that in perspective, our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is forming stars at the rate of only about one solar mass per year.”

The discovery was made combining observations of the W. M. Keck telescope (Univ. of California / Caltech), the Hubble/Spitzer/Herschel space telescopes, and the CFHT telescope and is part of the SpARCS collaboration lead by UC Riverside.

UC Riverside professor Gillian Wilson and graduate students Andrew deGroot and Ryan Foltz are among the authors of the article.

News bulletin by the Hubble Space Telescope site

New bulletin by UC Riverside

New bulletin by Keck Telescope

Blog entry in The Huffington Post (1)

News bulletin by The Huffington Post (2)

(Image credit: Cluster of galaxies SpARCS1049 seen in a combined image from data by Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. Credit: NASA, ESA and NASA/JPL-Caltech)