'Eye of Sauron' Glares at Us From Across the Universe

James Marshall
May 28, 2020

Astronomers had discovered an extremely rare object in the Universe - a ring galaxy.

Study authors say that the galaxy is 11 billion light-years away from the solar system and is two billion times longer than the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

Eleven billion years ago, a hot, active, galaxy that looked like an eye glared across space. "Most of that activity is taking place on its ring - so it truly is a ring of fire".

"It is making stars at a rate 50 times greater than the Milky Way", Tiantian Yuan, an astronomer at Australia's Swinburne University of Technology and lead discoverer of the galaxy, said in the statement. "It looks odd and familiar at the same time", Yuan said.

An animation illustrates the process that might have formed the hole at the galaxy's center.

According to NASA, about two-thirds of the galaxies we know about are spiral-shaped, such as the Milky Way.

The prevailing belief is these types of collisions were more common in the more crowded early universe - but new data suggests they were just as rare then as they are now. Most are the result of internal processes.

"The collisional formation of ring galaxies requires a thin disk to be present in the "victim" galaxy before the collision occurs".

In the early universe, however, galaxies were still forming. For comparison purposes, the universe itself is widely believed to be 13.8 billion years old. The first galaxies were small and "clumpy", the agency said, with "a lot of star formation occurring in the massive knots". After wondering about its origin while working on other projects, she eventually started spending more and more time investigating until she "solved its puzzle". It also looks like the first known "collisional ring galaxy" in the early universe.

In an article published in the journal Nature Astronomy, an worldwide team of scientists described the ring galaxy R5519, discovered after analyzing data from the Hubble space telescope and the Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

Astronomers will have to collect more data to be sure that the ring is caused by the collision, not natural evolution. "We find that is not the case". "Imagine a shooting game with audiences running about and wind blowing. galaxies in the young universe are constantly being bombarded by moving satellites and swirling gas flows". R5519 is no exception, the researchers said in a statement.

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