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SISSA study revealed the distribution of water in galaxy J1135 which is 12 billion light-years away

A new SISSA study has now revealed the distribution of water in galaxy J1135, which is 12 billion light-years away and formed when the universe was “teenagers”, 1.8 billion years after the Big Bang (already the subject of a previous SISSA study). This unprecedented resolution water map is the first ever obtained for such a distant galaxy and is the focus of a study recently published in “The Astrophysical Journal.”

The authors of the study explain that the map can help us understand the physical processes taking place in J1135 and shed light on the dynamics, still partly unclear, surrounding the formation of stars, black holes and galaxies themselves.

Studying galaxies: why water is so important

Francesca Perrotta, lead author of the study by the Galaxy Observational and Theoretical Astrophysics (GOThA) team at SISSA says “Water can be found not only on Earth, but anywhere in space, in different states. For example, in the form of ice, water can be found in so-called molecular clouds, dense regions of dust and gas in which stars are born”.

He says “Water acts as a mantle, covering the surface of the interstellar dust grains that form the building blocks of these molecular clouds and the main catalysts for the formation of molecules in the universe, sometimes something disturbs the stillness and coolness of these molecular clouds the birth of a star that releases heat, or a black hole that begins to aggregate matter and emit energy. Radiation from stars and other sources can heat icy water, sublimating it into a gaseous phase”.

He added “As the water vapor cools, it then emits light in the infrared part of this galactic region of the galaxy. produced, giving us unprecedented insight into how the form eat galaxies”.

This information can then be combined with the mapping of other molecules, such as carbon monoxide (CO), which are also used in the study of these phenomena.

How scientists studied J1135 ? How is it possible to study a galaxy in such a young and distant universe?

The answer is gravitational lensing, a technique that makes it possible to observe distant celestial bodies thanks to massive space objects that are closer to Earth. According to the principles of general relativity, these foreground bodies distort light from sources that are located behind the same objects but are perfectly aligned with them, almost like a giant cosmic lens that allows us to locate and study galaxies, even the most distant ones. Lensing was a key factor in another recent SISSA study dedicated to the discovery of J1135.

How galaxies form: still to be discovered

Dr. Perrotta explains that this study is valuable in part because it also expands our knowledge in an important area: “It’s not yet clear how galaxies form. There are at least two possible scenarios that aren’t necessarily alternative: one sees the aggregation of small galaxies to form larger ones, and the other sees the formation of stars in situ.

Future observations, similar to those already made by the James Webb Space Telescope, the largest telescope ever sent into space, could reveal more information about J1135 and lead to more precise mapping of its molecules.

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