Heat from Starbursts Influence Galaxy Evolution Essay

Starbursts, literally meaning energetic “bursts of star” formation, have been found to change how the galaxy evolves as well as how matter and energy are dispersed throughout the universe. An international team of astronomers used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to conduct research by observing 20 neighbouring galaxies and found that the combined effect of the energy emitted from starbursts can propel a powerful wind that travels out of the galaxy that can affect distances up to 20 times greater than the visible size of the host galaxy.

The astronomers utilized the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) instrument on the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to study the light emitted from a mixed sample of starburst vs. control galaxies. The magnification allowed further analysis, revealing further distant objects known as quasars – a highly luminous region in the center of galaxies, powered by supermassive black holes. By examining the light emitted from quasars after going through the earlier galaxies, they were able to show that bursts of star formation have a significant influence on the evolution of galaxies.

Using the COS on the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the team of astronomers concluded that they were only able to conduct this experiment to record these observations because of the COS’ ability to analyze hot gas. This was significant due to the large amounts of sample of highly ionized gas that the starburst galaxies contained in comparison to the galaxies that were not experiencing starbursts. Results indicated that the highly ionization of gas was due to the formation of energetic winds created by the newly forming stars.

The researchers found this experiment significant as it provides insight into how stars and galaxies form, as well as the regulation of future star and galaxy formation. They also conclude that because of the strong winds starbursts create; they hold a strong effect on the dispersion of energy and matter in the universe. I feel that this research is definitely relevant to not only astronomers, but as general information for anyone. It is good general information to know about the starbursts phenomena, as it provides insight with regards to how the galaxies in our universe evolve, and how matter and energy are distributed.

I do strongly believe that this project should be funded. When considering the age of the Hubble Space Telescope being over 20 years old and having instruments on the device that still provides so many different useful methods to observe space, one can only imagine what funding could bring using modern 21st century technology. I truly believe that this can be one of the beginning stages in exploring how galaxies evolve, and perhaps even discovering how the universe was created. I was intrigued when I saw the word “evolution” in the title of this article, and it sparked my curiosity as to how our galaxies became the way they are today.

Honestly, prior to reading this article, the only knowledge and preconceptions I had regarding starbursts were the colourful chewy candy that were packaged in square wrappers. However, I mainly chose this article because I was fascinated by how our galaxies evolved because I thought that would provide me with a further understanding of how our universe became the way it is. Furthermore, reading this article has ignited an interest in reading more about how the universe was created.