ANALYSIS: ‘They're So Cute!' Hubble's Baby Galaxy Pictures
Such a population of galaxies has finally been uncovered and categorized by a group of astronomers led by Sune Toft, of the DARK Cosmology Center at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen. In a paper that contains data from many telescopes around the world and in space - including Hubble, Spitzer, Herschel, Keck, the Very Large Array, the Sub-Millimeter Array, and many more - they characterize the sample of submillimeter-emitting gas-rich galaxies that exist in the early Universe and find that it has just the right characteristics to merge and make the giant ellipticals that are "red and dead" 10 billion years ago, and even more so today.
For the first time, this evolutionary link has been established, solving the mystery of these giant but quiet behemoths of the Universe. The dusty, gassy, merging galaxies of the distant past live a chaotic but short youth before settling down for a long, long, quiet middle age.
This work has been accepted for publication by the Astrophysical Journal, and a preprint is available on arXiv.org.