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A distant galaxy dies and astronomers photograph it

Giant galaxies die from within when they stop forming stars. Astronomers first spotted this phenomenon in a distant galaxy.

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Scientists have spotted the phenomenon in the galaxy after extracting almost half of the gas it uses to form stars. They recorded this rare phenomenon using the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array telescope series in Chile.

Light from this galaxy, known as ID2299, took about nine billion years to reach Earth. This means that astronomers actually observe how it appeared when universe was only 4,5 billion years old (now estimated to be 14 billion years old).

The galaxy ID2299 loses gas every year, which reduces the fuel needed to form stars. But the galaxy is still forming stars at a rate hundreds of times faster than our own galaxy. This will actually cause ID2299 to die in a few tens of millions of years.

The study was published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy.

"This is the first time we have detected that a typical star-forming galaxy in the distant universe is 'dying' due to a massive cold gas launch," said Annagrazia Puglisi, lead researcher and postdoctoral researcher at Durham University in the United Kingdom and the Saclay Nuclear Research Center in France.

It is possible that the death of this galaxy was caused by a collision with another galaxy, which eventually merged to form ID2299.

If a merger led to the loss of gas in this galaxy, astronomers may need to reconsider theories about the end of star formation in galaxies. Astronomers using the ESA Herschel Space Observatory have found that winds blowing through a huge black hole are sweeping away the stock of star-forming raw material in the host galaxy.

Perhaps the best part of this discovery is that it happened while astronomers were working on a different research for cold gas in remote galaxies. They observed the phenomenon on ID2299 for just a few minutes, but it was enough to gather some initial information and take a picture of the galaxy.

Future observations by astronomers about the galaxy could reveal more about the gas emitted from the galaxy.

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