ALMA observes a super bright galactic collision. Two ancient galaxies, 50 times bigger than our own, collide, thus, forming the largest galaxy merger ever.

Astronomers call these two galaxies ADFS-27. Scientists refer to them as ‘superluminous starburst galaxies,’ because they are both incredibly bright and massive.

ADFS-27 lies 12.7 billion light-years away from us. This distance makes them among the oldest galaxies in the universe. So, the event basically happened just after the big bang.

“Finding just one hyper-luminous starburst galaxy is remarkable in itself. Finding two of these rare galaxies in such close proximity is truly astounding,” said the lead author of a new study in the Astrophysical Journal. “Considering their extreme distance from Earth and the frenetic star-forming activity inside each, it’s possible we may be witnessing the most intense galaxy merger known to date.”

The European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory was the first one to spot this cosmic object.

However, Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array made the follow-up observations, which revealed amazingly intense regions of star formation.

Massive amounts of star-forming materials like gas and dust fuel the intense stellar factories surrounding the system.

“Much of this gas will be converted into new stars very quickly,” Riechers said. “Our current observations indicate that these two galaxies are indeed producing stars at a breakneck pace, about one thousand times faster than our home galaxy.”

Astronomers think that the massive size of these galaxies will trigger the formation of a new galaxy cluster’s core.

Future observations

However, astronomers hope that the Hubble’s successor, James Webb Telescope, will be ready in the next year. So, the new extremely powerful telescope will help astronomers make clearer observations.

“Eventually, we hope to combine the exquisite ALMA data with future infrared observations with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope,” says Riechers. “These two telescopes will form an astronomer’s ‘dream team’ to better understand the nature of this and other such exceptionally rare, extreme systems.”

Thumbnail image: This is an artistic rendering of ADFS-27. Massive galaxies in the process of merging some 12.7 billion years ago. Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF