University of Hertfordshire

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  • 906685

    Submitted manuscript, 715 KB, PDF document

  • A.M. Swinbank
  • I. Smail
  • S. Longmore
  • A.I. Harris
  • A.J. Baker
  • C. De Breuck
  • J. Richard
  • A.C. Edge
  • R.J. Ivison
  • R. Blundell
  • P. Cox
  • M. Gurwell
  • L.J. Hainline
  • M. Krips
  • A. Lundgren
  • R. Neri
  • B. Siana
  • G. Siringo
  • D.P. Stark
  • D. Wilner
  • J.D. Younger
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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
Pages (from-to)733-736
JournalNature
Journal publication date1 Apr 2010
Volume464
Issue7289
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2010

Abstract

Massive galaxies in the early Universe have been shown to be forming stars at surprisingly high rates. Prominent examples are dust-obscured galaxies which are luminous when observed at sub-millimetre wavelengths and which may be forming stars at a rate of 1,000 solar masses (M) per year. These intense bursts of star formation are believed to be driven by mergers between gas-rich galaxies. Probing the properties of individual star-forming regions within these galaxies, however, is beyond the spatial resolution and sensitivity of even the largest telescopes at present. Here we report observations of the sub-millimetre galaxy SMMJ2135-0102 at redshift z = 2.3259, which has been gravitationally magnified by a factor of 32 by a massive foreground galaxy cluster lens. This magnification, when combined with high-resolution sub-millimetre imaging, resolves the star-forming regions at a linear scale of only 100 parsecs. We find that the luminosity densities of these star-forming regions are comparable to the dense cores of giant molecular clouds in the local Universe, but they are about a hundred times larger and 10 7 times more luminous. Although vigorously star-forming, the underlying physics of the star-formation processes at z 2 appears to be similar to that seen in local galaxies, although the energetics are unlike anything found in the present-day Universe.

ID: 2713485