Dr. Einar C. Erickson
Ancient Document Mormon Scholar
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For those who abide the covenant, and those who do abide the covenant shall have peace and healing from the Spirit during the length of days and then shall they bear seed with all everlasting blessings and eternal rejoicing in the victorious life of eternity and they shall have a crown of glory together with garments of majesty and dwell in eternal light.


The great surveys inside the bubble called the BIG BANG, which we call a universe, show that galaxies congregate in clusters and along filaments that define connective links to other galaxies and where great gaps are created by such alignments. The structure created by the absence of galaxies, are great voids, of all sizes up to 500 million light years across. A list or chart of previous LARGE SCALE STRUCTURE SURVEYS is provided with this PART.  The chart  just lists sixteen of the most important surveys of record at the time it was prepared. On the chart the SLOAN DIGITAL SKY SURVEY ( SDSS) shows the distances included in that survey were from 5.4 to 11 billion light years. A preliminary effort prepare a map of the universe done  by Gott includes portions of the SDSS.  See Gott's map included herein,  (Gott p. 122)  and GALAXIES SURVEYS  beyond 10 billion light years to 12 billion years, actually including surveys reaching into the 13 to 13.4 billion light years when stars starting to form.  One of the areas of intense interest to Cosmologists is the CFA GREAT WALL,  shown on Gott's map, as younger, or earlier, than the SDSS GREAT WALL of galaxies, as shown in the COMA CLUSTER.  QUASAR  3C 273, one of the first of this type of object ever found,  lies in the older extension of the SDSS GREAT WALL, and near the oldest limits of the SDSS GREAT WALL is the QUASAR  association of  QSO  097 Lens. Each of these is being studied.


QUASAR 3C 273 was one of the first optical objects of STELLAR appearance that had been found to be associated with radio sources.  The first radio source so identified was 3C 48  in 1960. The identification of the radio source 3C 273 with a bright object of stellar appearance, provided a clue when it was found that its spectrum could be understood on the basis of a large redshift-it is a long ways away.  That was  in 1963 with equipment considered very primitive at today's standards,  (Robinson  p. 175), without knowing then they were creeping up on the time of the birth of our bubble, our universe.

On Gott's Map, note, that  before you get to the discoveries of the SUBARU region, farther and earlier still, you have the area of  GGRB 99O123, and  beyond the limits of the SUBARU region is the area of GRB 090423.  QSO  0957 LENS is a vast cluster that acts as a LENS to access features and objects that are earlier and farther away.  His MAP OF THE UNIVERSE is included in this web site entry, it  shows that a great deal of data has been collected, overwhelming  many astronomers who are in the middle of evaluation and interpretation, knowing that new equipment under construction could pre-empt their results and conclusions if not done as soon as possible.  We will return to QUASARS below.


Building on the successes of previous surveys, in 2009 astronomers put HUBBLE to work on an ambitious project known as the GREAT OBSERVATORIES ORIGINS DEEP SURVEY (GOODS), not on Gott's  MAP or the SURVEY CHART.  (Sparrow p. 305).  They observed two areas of sky , one in the northern sky, the other in the southern sky, from a range of telescopes operating at different wavelengths. The HUBBLE image captured a small area of FORNAX from the ultraviolet, through visible light, to the infrared; in total, it captured 7,500 galaxies stretching back in time to 13 billion years ago. On the images faint red blobs were the most distant of all, early dwarf galaxies red-shifted into the infrared. (Ibid p. 305-306)


Previous PARTS in this series have discussed the great structures, the great galactic clusters, the filaments and the voids mapped by the data from spectroscopic surveys that reveal networks of structure, some even interconnected with no clear boundaries.  The extended regions with a high concentration  of galaxies and clusters of galaxies are called superclusters, although the term is not exactly precise- astronomers have run out of superlatives.  Those clusters of clusters of superclusters are still just being called superclusters, though names are being given the larger structures, but even little clouds of galaxies are given names. We are looking for something innovative here to define the BIG in galactic clusters.


This is unpublished data of the only all-sky redshift catalogue extensive enough to match the region of  the reconstruction accomplished by Tully's team noted below.  There is a beautiful Supplementary Video by S. Anvar,  (http:/urfy,cea,fr/kanuajea) that shows our supercluster, LANIAKEA,  and its dynamical connection to other neighboring large scale systems. (Tempel p. 41) 

The data on which the SUPERCLUSTER LANIAKEA is based comes from the analysis of data obtained from  the COSMIC FLOWS-2 GALAXY CATALOGUE,  (Tully p. 71)  not listed on the SURVEY CHART.  As illustrated by the image of LANIAKEAincluded herein, from one angle, it is a distorted round feature about 520 light years in diameter, a huge supercluster! It is surrounded by very large voids, and linked to surrounding super clusters.

Why is it important to map the large scale structure of the nearby region of the Universe?  Because:  l. It reveals details of the large-scale cosmic structures that surround the Milky Way. These details are nearly impossible to observe for systems far away from Earth. 2. The morphology of the nearby Universe is essential for a precise determination of cosmological parameters such as the density of dark energy, which is thought to drive the acceleration of the expanding Universe.  3. Examination of the cosmic structures around the Milky Way will help us to understand how the Galaxy formed and evolved, and to understand galaxy-formation processes in general. (Tempel p. 41) The Milky Way is the galaxy we thrive in. It is the nearest to us, little galaxies proliferate in the local group, only one other large galaxy is in our local space, ANDROMEDA, and it is the subject of  intense study. 

What other details of structure might be uncovered as additional direct-distance measurements of galaxies are carried out?  And what will be learned as we expand our understanding of nearby regions to the vast regions of the known universe?  If we want to know about stars, at least study the nearest one to us, our SUN. (See TC for the third day). But, as stars go, it is a tiny star, important only because it was created just for us.

LANIAKEA, however, is smaller than the largest superclusters that have so far been found in the more distant Universe.  Until the measurements of the peculiar velocities of galaxies could be made,  LANIAKEA was missed, such measurement are essential for identifying the boundaries of most superclusters. So one can expect a lot more discoveries in the future.  (Temple p. 42)

One way to analyze  the structures being defined is by measuring the distance from the Earth  of all the galactic features, then the specific velocity of each can be derived from the subtraction of the mean cosmic expansion determined by the results of preliminary analyses of the all the data.  The product of the distance times the established Hubble constant, from observed velocity, gives the specific velocity , the line of site departure from the cosmic expansion and arising from  gravitational perturbations providing a map of specific velocities, or as they call it, peculiar velocities, which provides the basis for constructing a map of the distribution of matter within the confines of the larger galactic cluster. (Tully p 71)  That was a little convoluted, but I think one gets the picture.

Recently maps of the structure of our local region using a catalogue of peculiar velocities has been configured.  They have found that locations where peculiar or specific velocity have been identified the flows diverge, like branches and limbs of a tree, so they can trace the surface of divergent points that surround us resulting in a 3-D picture.  Within the volume enclosed by the mapped regions, the motions of galaxies are inward after removal of the mean cosmic expansion and long range flows. Thus they define a supercluster of immense size by the volume within  such a feature, in doing so they have defined the extent of a structure which includes many nearby galactic clusters of varying size that constitutes what they call, the HOME  SUPERCLUSTER.  In our case, this vast SUPERCLUSTER, as so defined, has just recently been given the name LANIAKEA by K. Brent Tully and his international team, consisting of Helen Courtois, of the University Claude Bernard Lyon l, Institute de Physique Nucleaire, University Lyon l, France. Yehuda Hoffman, Racah Institute of Physics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, and Daniel Pomarede, of the Institute de Recherche sur les Lois Fondamentales de l'Univers, CEA/Saclay, France. Tully is at the Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii. (Tully p. 71)

See the diagram of the image and surroundings of the HOME SUPERCLUSTER, it is an oblated-round  region with a diameter of about 520 million light years (12,000 km s-l in  units of the cosmic expansion) or 160 megaparsecs, and encompasses  [about] 1017 solar passes." (Tully p. 73)  They proposed "the name LANIAKEA SUPERCLUSTER OF GALAXIES (from Hawaiian, LANI, heaven, and AKEA,  spacious, immeasurable)."  (Tully p. 73) See the image included herein, to get an idea of our HOME SUPERCLUSTER.   

 The largest structure that can be circumscribed within the currently available distance and peculiar or specific velocity data is a region that now includes thirteen ABEL clusters along  with the very large VIRGO 11 CLOUD or CLUSTER, one of the larger clouds of galaxies in LANIAKEA, (Tully p. 21) along with a number of small CLOUDS as shown on the GALAXY CLUSTER diagram. The area shown on the GALAXY CLUSTER diagram , which is just an area of clusters surrounding our LOCAL GROUP located in this diagram as  lying at the center of a region of galaxies out to a radius of nearly 40 million light years, about 160 million light years across. The diagram chart shows the clouds with names identifying them, that are within eighty million light years of the local group. The clusters are always irregular in shape but are shown as bubbles for visualizing their areas and relationships.  (Ferris p. 146)  See the chart, revised from an earlier version with this entry. The largest cloud of galaxies in the vicinity of the LOCAL GROUP is the VIRGO 11 CLUSTER  with its hundreds of galaxies the size or larger than our Milky Way, and thousands of smaller galaxies. It is host to one of the largest galaxies in the known universe, GALAXY M87 (=NGCA4486=3C274=VIRGO-A) depending on which galaxy catalogue you use.  M87, partially discussed  in earlier PARTS of this series because of its massive black hole, has a mass a thousand billion times that of the mass of our sun with a halo of ten thousand globular clusters and  a vast protruding jet. It is one of the landmark galaxies of our known Universe. (Ferris p. 11) 

The plane of the GALAXY CLUSTER MAP, is that of the LOCAL SUPERCLUSTER of galaxies. The clouds are irregular in form, but are depicted as spherical volumes to identify general size and locality.  The numbers within each sphere indicates the distance of the cluster below (negative sign) or above (positive sign) the plane of the diagram so one could do cross sections and get a 3-D picture of the region. The concentric circles show the distance as now calculated, from the center of our Local Group. The whole diagram is to help visualize that  portion of  LANIAKEA where the MILKY WAY is located. (Ferris p. 144)


See the Diagram for a visualization of LANIAKEA as an orange distorted circle with the MILKY WAY as a black dot in the upper right hand area of the outlined region.  The small RED areas are regions of high density, areas are of intermediate density.  Streams and dots of white galaxies are those from the redshift catalogue and identify the LANIAKEA BASIN, they are the flow streams within the LANIAKEA BASIN. The blue areas are voids. There are several connecting low density green areas bridging the nearby PERSEUS-PISCES, COMA, HERCULES  and SHAPLEY  superclusters that are outside LANIAKEA.  The orange contour encloses the outer limits of the streams, essentially defining LANIAKEA.  (Tulley p.73) 

The distribution of matter is determined by two independent methods: one is based on surveys of the distribution of galaxies in projection and redshift, or from the motion of galaxies. The two paths to determining the distribution  of matter are in good agreement, a consequence that represents a considerable success for the STANDARD MODEL of structure formation via gravitational instability. Tully's team were able to use the data to reconstruct the large-scale structure of the nearby Universe. (Tully p. 71)

Local streams of galaxies flowing  within the region converge towards the NORMA and DEL CENTAURUS CLUSTERS which approximate the location of the what has been called THE GREAT ATTRACTOR.  The volume of LANIAKEA includes the old LOCAL SUPER CLUSTER,  and the 40 galaxies including our own MILKY WAY and ANDROMEDA galaxies.  It also includes the SOUTHERN SUPERCLUSTERS, the important PAVO-INDUS FILAMENT which is an extension to the OPHICUS CLUSTER.  The LOCAL and SCULPTOR VOIDS and other voids are also within the volume, the region of inflow towards a LOCAL BASIN of attraction  in the upper portion of LANIAKEA. The green connection between home basin of LANIAKEA and the nearby Perseus-Pisces supercluster  is called THE ARCH. (Tully p. 72)


Astronomers using BOSS have made the most precise measurement so far, within l percent, of galaxy positions nearly halfway across the visible universe. In January 2014 at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington, D.C. scientists were informed as to how the universe's rate of expansion has changed. The astronomers had studied BARYON ACOUSTIC OSCILLATIONS (BAQ'S), they call Density Waves or Acoustic  Oscillations that extend out in all directions, touching and sometimes overlapping, like soap bubbles,  which arose in the universe's earliest moments, when a hot fluid-like (Plasma) mix of photons, electrons, baryons (protons and neutrons) and dark matter filled the cosmos of the expanding space. The gravity associated with denser regions pulled together material which then compressed and heated up. Radiation pressure pushed the baryons and light outward to make each region less dense. The Baryon-radiation mixture expanded as a spherical sound wave (a BAO), similar to waves rippling on a pond's surface after you throw in a pebble. A lot of research in this area is in progress.

Some 370,000 years into cosmic history, the universe cooled enough for the electrons and baryons to combine,  forming matter as we know it today, which allowed the radiation to stream free, carrying with it the oscillation pattern.  Eventually they will work out the details of the cooling process.  The longest sound wave imprinted in the radiation is the farthest distance one of those pressure waves could have reached from the Big Bang in the finite time of 370,000 years! That would leave about 630 million years for the first stars to form, the first clustering, the first galaxies, the first quasars, the first Black Holes, and all of those good things to emerge from the mix of matter. This is what the many new instruments will be investigating.

By the end of the first l billion years from the BB, matter clumped along the spherical BAO oscillations shells and eventually evolved into galaxies. Astronomers now see these shells with a radius of up to 490 million light years as voids.  Astronomers with the BOSS mapped roughly a million galaxies in two different epochs: when the universe was about 8 billion light years and 20 billion years old. They analyzed galaxy distributions, which result from BAOs, and measured the pattern angle on the sky, at different times in the universe's history. Because astronomers already know the physical size of those shell patterns, they can calculate how far away from the Earth those structures are. From that calculation, they can determine the universe's expansion rates at those different cosmic  epochs. This information also gives astronomers hints about the mysterious "dark energy" that is causing the expansion of the universe. (Astronomy, May 2014, p. 19)   The subject of DARK ENERGY is occupying the minds of a lot of great astronomers.


The BACKGROUND IMAGING OF COSMIC EXTRAGALECTICE POLARIZATION l and 2, took place from 2010 to 2012, aiming  to map the polarization of the primordial microwaves in a small patch of sky. In order to maximize the instruments sensitivity, researches designed it to detect microwaves of 150 gigahertz (GHz).  However to distinguish radiation from dust in the Milky Way itself and other galactic foregrounds from the CMB, cosmologists generally take data at multiple frequencies. But BICEP l and 2 had to rely on other groups' estimates of the dust foreground in their field of view-including preliminary numbers presented by the PLANCK TEAM.  New Data from the  EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY'S PLANCK SPACE CRAFT, show the dust could account for some, and possibly all, of the BICEP signal. A cosmologist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and member of the Planck team, says this does not prove that the BICEP signal was entirely spurious.  Their map shows dust emissions at a frequency of 353 GHz and extrapolated using the average spectrum for dust emissions to suggest much more work was is going to have to be done to establish the results as evidence for cosmic inflation. So BICEP 3 will seek this winter to get more details. (Cho p. 1547) Clement Pryke, a cosmologist at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and a co-principal investigator for the BICEP team, realizing there is a cosmological signal that needs affirming, have joined PLANCK TEAM working on a joint analysis that should provide a  more definitive answer.  It is important to know what is not there as it is to know what is there.

The sky is relatively dusty, extracting evidence of primordial gravitational waves may take years and multiple experiments. Max Tegmark, a cosmologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, is optimistic because there are places in the sky that seem to be twice as clean as BICEPT'S FIELD OF VIEW, they are places where they will be looking. The PLANCK MISSION accumulated a lot of data on dust, locally, in the Milky Way, and in interstellar space,  But much of it has not been released, information on dust is due now.  


The story of Quasars began in 1960, as noted earlier, with the discovery of a new type of astronomical object, referred to variously as quasi-stellar objects, or QUASARS, the name by which such objects are known today.  Their physical nature was initially unknown and telescopes were not what they are today.  But with the tools and observations that were available a half century ago, they eventually considered a QUASAR to be a glowing disk of hot, dense material that can form around the supermassive black hole at the center of most galaxies especially a large galaxy, often the result of a collision with a second galaxy.  Such accretion disks are only about the size of our solar system, but they can outshine all the stars in the host galaxy by a factor of a thousand or so. They can be seen comparatively easily at great distances, which makes it possible to trace their evolution back to the first billion years after the Big Bang.

In the past half century more than one million Quasars have been catalogued, and still counting. There is more than enough for most demographic studies of astronomical objects, it is difficult to obtain a representative sample of quasars that span a wide range of distances from Earth, and hence cosmic look-back times. It has also been a challenge to account for all the energy output of a  QUASAR, because some of the ultraviolet light that is emitted from the accretion disk is absorbed by dust in the host galaxy and re-radiated at much longer, infrared wavelengths.

Surveys of the Quasar population have been undertaken using observations made at optical or near infrared wavelengths (between about 0.2 and 3 micrometers), it is these types of measurements that have provided the strongest evidence that QUASAR  numbers peaked fairly sharply 10 billion years ago when the Universe was about one third of its current size. The quasar population was still growing along with the other large structures in the young Universe, but there has been a steady decrease in QUASAR numbers since then. Why?

Though suspected about 1963 it was not until the 1970's that astronomers figured out that Quasars are luminous disks of gas powered by supermassive  black holes, most of which are located more than halfway across the  universe,  just fifty years ago Quasars were thought to be between Andromeda and the Milky Way.  In the 1980's they began to know differently. One of the most powerful  known was discovered in 2012. It blasts out about 100 times as much energy as all the stars in the Milky Way Galaxy combined. As the light from a quasar traverse the cosmos it picks up the chemical fingerprints of gas clouds which allows researchers to determine  conditions in the early universe. (Science News, September 6, 2014 p. 4)

One astronomical team studied a sample of 10,000 QUASARS that had been initially identified using optical data from the SLOAN DIGITAL SKY SURVEY(SDSS) They had access to longer wavelength measurements (at about 8 micrometers)  of the same objects from the WIDE FIELD INFRARED SURVEY EXPLORER (WISE) satellite. Thus, they were able to get a more complete census of the QUASARS' energy output and, after correcting for the various complicated observational selection effects found some striking results. They confirmed the steady decrease in the QUASAR population over the past 10 billion years. At the expected decline at cosmic time before 3 billion years after they found a plateau in the QUASAR energy output going back to within a billion years after the BB. They were unable to probe any earlier than this.  Eventually new technology will become available so their work may be extended into earlier times. It is evident that large numbers  of high-luminosity QUASARS were in place just a billion years after the BB.  Most luminous QUASARS formed more rapidly than astronomical models of black hole-accretion and galactic collisions predicted. (Mortlock p. 43)

 Less than a billion  years after the BB, black holes at the cores of distant QUASARS had already reached  millions of times the SUN's mass, implying a puzzingly rapid growth rate.  Trying to understand this process, astronomers are looking for the predecessors at even greater distances, but such objects are cloaked with dust and gas that thwart optical and x-ray detection. Recently a team detected a millimeter emission timeof the molecule CO in great abundance in one luminous QUASAR (J1148) as it cuts through dust unabated. If the earliest ancestors of supermassive black holes indeed exist in such a thick cocoon, long-wavelength emission lines may offer a way to look at sources that would otherwise be invisible.  (Science Vol. 346, issue 6209, 31 October 2014, p. 598)

One must keep in mind that they are trying to unravel what happened 12.8 billion to 13.4 billion  light years ago,  events for which evidence has long ceased to exist. Also whatever is now inferred from the energy  output one must account for the expansion of the universe and that the light at any given wavelength has, since its emission,  been red-shifted by an amount that depends on how distant the sources are, and hence how far back in time astronomers are able to see them. Future observations and new instruments will allow details to be extracted and improved.  "More Data" is something of a mantra in astronomy, and science in general.

Coming soon is the LARGE SYNOPTIC SURVEY TELESCOPE  (LSST) and the SQUARE KILOMETRE ARRAY, (SKA),  assuring tantalizing data about the age, formation and evolution of QUASARS and answers to many questions.  (Mortlock p. 44)


Now under construction atop a mountain in northern Chile, the  8.36 meter LARGE SYNOPTIC SURVEY TELESCOPE (LSST) will sweep the entire southern sky every three nights when it starts operating in 2022.  That is a long time to wait for 'MORE DATA.'  It will create a wealth of data that will be available to all US astronomers and dozens of international partners. It is supposed to be a democratizing force and to usher in a new era of survey astronomy.

The National Science Foundation,  which is covering the cost of the telescopes' $473 Million construction bill, has commissioned a National Research Council panel to formulate a strategy that maximizes the scientific return of  LSST. Astronomers were supposed to have their replies in by early October, with the panel's report early next year. The facility will no doubt detect unexpected events as well as deliberate targeted objectives. Large institutions have private access to such telescopic data, but smaller institutions and even public ones rely on public instruments for their data. 

The data that will be generated by the new facilities will require large computing resources.  LSST will collect so much data  (30 terabytes per night) that few small institutions will have the capability or means to analyze  information directly.  Only rare institutions will be able to access the data and then not the whole LSST data set.  Even a subset will be beyond the range of a well endowed professor. The data will have to be accessed remotely.  Even the SLOAN DIGITAL SKY SURVEY is accessed by a portal, so anyone can view and filter the telescopes output.  That survey alone has generated 5,800 publications, and been cited 245,000 times.  Steven Kahn the LSST director does plan for the facility to have online portal access, but the flow of data will be so massive that even basic processing is an enormous job. The LSST will collect more data in three nights than the entire SDSS catalogue says Keivan Stassun, an astronomer jointly with Vanderbilt University and University of Nashville, Tennessee, who chairs the SDSS executive committee.  It will be a question of capacity and resources.  NASA may have to divest itself of other facilities in order to make this one a go. A panel of astronomers had advised the National Science Foundation to divest itself of six telescopes by 2017, so the agency can pay for future facilities such as the LSST. However if the agency can find new operators for the telescopes in the next 18 months the closing of some of the facilities may not be necessary.  Progress is often a matter of money.  (Nature Vo. 488, 23 August 2014, p. 434) In the past, the younger students and small institutions, eager to participate, have been excluded, most do not have access to the great private telescopes or computers. However, smaller telescopes will be required to investigate the  discoveries of LSST.   Not everyone can have access to the telescopes, so the push will be to make sure all who desire will have access to the data.  There are only a few seats at the table, but in the long run, all need to be served.  (Zastrow p. 18)

LSST is a wide-angle telescope and will make use of the world's largest  DIGITAL CAMERA, which has 3 billion pixels. Though built in Chile, LSST will be managed from Tucson, Arizona (Astronomy December 2014, p. 14)


The FRONTIERS FIELDS PROGRAME (FFP), in conjunction with the large telescopes, in particular NASA'S HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE, which harnesses the phenomenon of 'gravitational lensing,'   (See NATURE, Vol. 497, pp. 554-556, September 2013) observed  tremendous gravity effects of large foreground clusters. George Abell catalogued the most prominent clusters according to their apparent richness and estimated distance in the 1950's with instruments available then. (Coles p. 73, 350, 389) One of the most super-distant galaxies was identified by the lensing created by the giant cluster of ABELL 2744.  The gravity of this great cluster distorts space, enhancing the visibility of more distant galaxies.  The giant cluster ABELL 2774 shows hundreds of galaxies as they looked 3.5 billion years ago, produced gravitational lensing that allowed scientists to see background galaxies from more than 12 billion years ago.  Some of the objects captured are 10-20 times fainter than any galaxies previously observed.  Planed telescopes have their work cut out for them. (NATURE Vol. 505, p. 266, January 2013)


 Astronomers, using the HUBBLE and SPITZER SPACE TELESCOPES, have identified FOUR unusually bright young galaxies in the early universe.  As noted the Plasma cooled down enough within 370,000 years after the BB to yield particles and substances, not long after would have come the first stars and then in the densely packed conditions of that era clusters of stars would have begin to build and larger structures would be forming. As the early Plasma cooled, about 370 million years after the BB, bright young galaxies seemed to have formed. All within 130 million years after the Plasma cooled enough for matter to assemble. The four bright galaxies identified in the deep survey were in existence about 500 million years after the BB.  The images observed were like four drops of fresh blood, and the objects are about 10 to 20 times more luminous than any such stellar conglomerations observed before.

Their brilliance comes from active new star formation, the brightest of the four is producing stars at a pace about 50 times faster than our galaxy does today. For the first time astronomers also were able to determine such distant object's mass.  They are small galaxies, only some 3 percent the diameter of the Milky way. Each of these galaxies are home to around a billion stars. Astronomers at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington D.C. released images of these four galaxies in January 2014.  Not quite as old, the KECK OBSERVATORY detected a NORMAL galaxy that existed just 3 billion years after the BB.(Astronomy, May 2014, p. 13)  Will earlier NORMAL galaxies be found?  Until information on earlier galactic formation is obtained it seems that it took about 2.5 billion years before the unusual characteristics of early stars and galaxies began to assume conditions as we find them today. 


It was in October 2013 that astronomers imaged what they considered to be one of the earliest galaxies, dating from just 700 million light years after the big bang.  It was unusual because it was aglow with hot, newborn stars, producing stars at the rate hundreds of times that of the modern Milky Way.  It is a first glimpse of an unexpected period of frenetic star birth in the early Universe. The galaxy was one of dozens of others imaged in a HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE SURVEY  designed to pick up faint, distant galaxies. their reddish color suggested they were remote enough for the expansion of the universe to stretch and redden their light. Researchers led by Steven Finkelstein, at the University of Texas, observed these early galaxies through a new spectrograph installed on one of the two 10 METER KECK TELESCOPES  at Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The MULTI-OBJECT SPECTROMETER FOR INFRA RED EXPLORATION, can analyze light from 45 objects simultaneously. Traditional spectrographs could only look at one object at a time.  Studying 43 galaxies over two nights of observations, Fineksten's team detected a near-infrared emission line from one of the galaxies, from which they measured a redshift of  7.51, the measure of how much light waves had been stretched by cosmic expansion, meaning the galaxy was 13.l billion light years away, in a universe now considered to be 13.8 billion light years old.  They were probing the earlier intervals of time in the early universe, an exciting time in the history of the Universe. (See THE CREATIONS 20 December 2006)

But the galaxy was much brighter than distant galaxies typically are, as determined from its image and its spectrogram, which seemed to be significantly rich in "metals,' or elements heavier than hydrogen and helium.  The heavier elements originate from fusion reactions in the heart of stars and are spewed out when the stars explode as supernovae. The high metallicity of the observed galaxy suggested that it had already seen the birth and death of generations of stars by the time the universe was 700 million years old!  From their observations they concluded that the galaxy was forming stars at a rate of 330 solar masses per year.  What a surprise.  Other galaxies nearly as distant typically form stars at a rate no higher than 20 to 30 solar masses per year.

Volker Bromm, a theoretical astrophysicist at UT Austin who wasn't  on Finkelstein's team, says the finding would mark a period in the cosmic time line when galaxies went from forming relatively few stars to bursting with star formation.  There may be an earlier limitation to the efficiency of star formation. When a galaxy is sufficiently enriched with "metals" gas clouds coalesce more easily into stars, the star formation rate accelerates considerably. Regardless of models the Finkelstein team relied on to estimate star formation rate, the star formation rate would still be higher than fainter galaxies at that redshift, so a lot of star formation was taking place. (Science Vol. 342,  25 October 2013, p. 411) New observations will be made and doubts and questions at this time will be resolved.  That early time period is going to be the objective of a lot a telescopic time.


NASA'S KEPLER SPACECRAFT,  after being crippled for a year, has been brought back to life by creative engineering.  In September  it returned its first batch of science data since resuming its hunt for planets outside the Solar System in June.

The data includes observations of more than 12,000 stars for  exo-planets and other data, as well as galaxies, to be scanned for supernovae or signs of black holes. The craft, hobbled since May  2013 by failure of two of its reaction wheels, now steadies itself by balancing its frame against the oncoming solar wind. In that condition the team expects KEPLER'S observations will continue until its fuel runs out sometime in late 2017.  (NATURE Vol. 514, October 2014)


Gravitational Waves could energize and brighten stars, perhaps providing indirect evidence for the weak ripples in space time that are thought to be emitted by high energy events such as exploding stars. Barry McKernan at the City University of New York and his colleagues calculated the effect that gravitational waves would  have on a star if the waves have frequencies matching those of the star's natural vibrations. They found that the star absorbs those waves, and if close to a powerful source such as merging black holes, it could heat up and brighten. Their study suggests that gravitational waves, which are difficult to detect, could interact more strongly with matter than previously  thought. (NATURE Vol. 505, 16 January 2014, p. 266)


The University of Arizona in Tucson, Kitt Peak's astronomical instruments have been increased by the 12 METER RADIO TELESCOPE, which began its observations on 2 October 2014.  The telescope is one of three prototypes originally made for the ATACAMA LARGE MILLIMETER/SUBMILLIMETER ARRAY (ALMA) located in Chile.  Some of initial objectives of the telescope will be to study phenomena such as molecules in interstellar space and super- massive black holes. The University lost a bid for another of the prototype dishes in 2011; that one is destined for SUMMIT STATION on the peak of the Greenland ice sheet.  (Nature Vol. 514, 9 October 2014, p. 144)  SUMMIT was established in 1989 with permission from the Danish and Greenlandic governments, originally to create a base camp for an ice-core drilling project. In the 1900's the station began to host other research visitors such as atmospheric scientists, glaciologist, and caught the attention of astronomers. They flock there for the purity of the air.  SUMMIT is located 72 degrees north and 3,216 meters above sea level, there the air is about as pristine as can be, it is the premier spot to grab an air sample uncontaminated by local emissions.

By 2018, a US-Taiwanese collaboration plans to install its recently acquired 12 METER RADIO TELESCOPE, at SUMMIT STATION.  It will challenge the environment adding equipment and population of active scientists and interested visitors which began to arrive after the 1990's.  Since 2003, SUMMIT STATION has been occupied year-round.

In the meantime, ALMA has been busy checking out strange objects in the universe. One of these is Galaxy NGC-1433. Alma is interested in the center where there is a black hole hiding,  quiet and calm, but ALMA saw that it really is getting some action.  The molecular gas around the galactic center has woven itself into a spiral that feeds directly into the black hole, which then reacts by shooting jets of material outward, the strange things is that these are puny jets, just 150 light years long, 1,000 times smaller than those in active galaxies. A vast study of the origin and development of galaxies, of all types, is underway, so the observations of  NGC-1433 will have to be accounted for. What they now know about galaxy evolution is in for a major overhaul as they study the universe with the new equipment.  (Astronomy , February 2014, p. 16)


GALAXY  NGC-6946,  the prefix NGC, was created by a vast survey of thousands of galaxies, which identifies many galaxies by a number.  NGC-6946  is a galaxy of many faces. Its starry center appears in optical light as a blue area, the hydrogen gas of the spiral arms and halo shows up in radio waves as orange in color, and the dim emission from the flow of star forming hydrogen into the galaxy also comes as radio waves that are red.  But ninety percent of the fuel needed to power galaxies' star-formation  engines is missing, then recent observation changed the picture. Using the GREEN BANK TELESCOPE (GBT) in West Virginia, astronomers have begun to prove where the majority of raw material for building stars might be hiding.

A team led by D.J. Pisano of West Virginia University detected a filament or river of hydrogen streaming into the galaxy. This cold raw material comes from intergalactic space and explains why galaxies can just keep building and building stars, even after they should have used up all of their original ingredients.  It is the first evidence that such intergalactic space-based rivers of hydrogen-called  COLD FLOW, even existed.  (Astronomy May 2014, p. 18) 


This is a GLOBAL NETWORK OF RADIO OBSERVATORIES. Together they create an instrument so powerful it will be able to resolve the central black holes in the Milky Way; two are now known, and in the monster M87. It will study the dynamics  of accretion disks, and put relativity to the test. Currently there are eight observatories that make up the network.  The new ALMA facility in Chile has joined the network. (American Scientist, November-December 2013, p. 4578)      

There are large elliptical balls of stars, some of which can match the scale of our own spiral galaxy, and some of which dwarf ours. Giant ellipticals are enormous spherical star clouds with up to 200 time the mass of our entire Milky Way, the largest galaxies known, and the nearest such galaxy to earth is MESSIER 87 (M87). The HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE has peered through the outer stars to focus on the bright jet that shoots out from the center where a monster of a black hole is embedded.  This is known as an ACTIVE GALACTIC NUCLEUS. (Sparrow pp. 262-263)  This huge galaxy is 55 million light years away in the center of the VIRGO CLUSTER, one of the larger clusters in our Home Supercluster, LANIAKEA. Because of the great mass of such galaxies, all kinds of things happen within their confines, such as collisions of galaxies and mergers. Vast filaments of hydrogen trailing from disturbed spirals and close encounters with other galaxies. (Sparrow pp.  380-381)  There will be more about M87 in the future. 


Europe's next major space-science venture will be powerful  X-RAY TELESCOPE.  Last June the European Space Agency announced the new telescope called ATHENA.  It would be the largest  X-RAY Observatory ever built and is scheduled for 2028. 

ATHENA has been a favored project since October 2013.  Then the agency picked the "hot and energetic Universe" as one of two themes for its next large project costing $1.4 billion.  ATHENA  images X-RAY sources to study how hot gas, or the hot plasma of the Big Bang, evolves into stars and star clusters, then into galaxy clusters and how  and when black holes originated and grow.  (Nature Vol. 511, 3 July 2014, p. 11)


The NUCLEAR SPECTROSCOPIC TELESCOPE ARRAY (NuSTAR)  was launched by NASA,  in June 2013 , the agency had a specific goal of using its X-RAY vision to better understand how massive stars explode. They have done just that. Astronomers mapped radioactive material in a supernova remnant for the first time. NuSTAR astronomers have been able to peer into the inner workings of the dying star that produced CASSIOPEIA A, fantastic super nova remnant. The beautiful nearly round remnants was previously mapped in low energy X-Ray material with NASA's CHANDRA X-RAY OBSERVATORY.  Cassiopeia A,  a remnant of the explosion  was created when a star with more than eight times the sun's mass reached the end of its life as a core-collapsed supernova  334 years ago.  The leftover debris of that event is what's visible to astronomers today. Using  NuSTAR's  ability to detect high-energy X-rays invisible to other telescopes, astronomers studied Cassiopeia A  to record the locations of the radioactive isotope titanium-44, which was produced when the massive star's core collapsed. What they found were concentrated clumps of titanium instead of a uniform distribution.

"Stars are spherical balls of gas, and so you might think that when they end their lives and explode the explosion would look like a uniform ball expanding out with great power," says Fiona Harrison, the principal investigator of NuSTAR at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "Our new results show how the explosion's heart or engine, is distorted, possibly because the inner regions literally slosh around before detonation."  (Astronomy, June 2014 p. 16)

NuSTAR caught a rare event with its mission, as X-rays from the corona of a super massive black hole shifted over just a few days, the space agency announced  in August. The X-ray light from the corona blurred and stretched as a result of gravity's  tug in an extreme demonstration of the effect of general relativity.  Astronomers don't understand how the corona is produced or why it changes shape, but they hope new data will help them understand these bizarre features.  Every day there is something new and unexpected. (Astronomy, 7 December 2014, p. 12)


Three next generation dark-matter projects have won the backing of the US Department of  Energy and the NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION. Last July the agencies announced that they would fund the SUPER CRYOGENIC DARK MATTER SEARCH (SNOLAB) experiment to be built near Sudbury in Canada, and the LUXZEPLIN collaboration at the SANFORD UNDERGROUND RESEARCH FACILITY  in South Dakota. They will also support an upgrade to the AXION DARK MATTER EXPERIMENT at the University Washington in Seattle. (Nature Vol. 511, 17 July 2014, p. 269)  Sooner or later they will nail down DARK MATTER and DARK ENERGY.  

DARK MATTER is for the present considered to constitute 85 % of all matter in the universe, and there may be more of it near the Sun than previously assumed. The presence of DARK MATTER is inferred from its gravitational effect on the rotation of the Milky Way and other groups of stars. Silva Garbari at the University Zurich in Switzerland and her team have developed a dynamic model of the Milky Way that focuses on the motion of 2,000 key stars local to the Sun. Their model suggests that the density of dark matter near the Sun is higher than had been thought. Their results are at odds with the prevailing view that a spherical halo of DARK MATTER  surrounds the Galaxy. The result is instead consistent with a less spherical galactic halo or with a local disc of dark matter. (Nature Vol. 488, 23 August 2012, p. 412)                                                                       


On October 23, 2014, the PLANCK MISSION team sent the final command to the telescope, marking the end of its operations. Mission accomplished!  The spacecraft was launched May 14, 2009, observing  the microwave sky for nearly 4.5 years.  The Planck had two detectors, the HIGH FREQUENCY INSTRUMENT (HFI), which studied shorter wavelengths, higher energies and higher temperatures. And the LOW FREQUENCY (LFI), which observed longer wavelengths with lower energies and temperatures.  The HFI detected until January 2012, the LFI continued observing until October 3, 2013. The data included thousands of cool objects, clouds of gas, dust, the substances of future stars.  Its main goal was the measurement of the tiny differences in temperature across the sky called the COSMIC MICROWAVE BACKGROUND (CMB).  Part of the information they released was a detailed map of the CMB's temperature  fluctuations thus achieving the project's main goal.

According to the projects measurements, they arrived at the numbers making up the content of the universe. These numbers may be different from other investigators, but they permit a base on which to evaluate future estimates as they are made with more sophisticated instruments in progress of  being constructed.  The data supports a 13.8 billion years old universe, since the Big Bang.  This bubble called a  universe contains 4.9 % normal matter, 26.8 percent dark matter (an invisible mass) , and 68.3 percent  dark energy, the still mysterious something that's speeding up the universe's expansion.  (Astronomy January 2014, p. 19)

This universe is a finite bubble that we cannot see outside of, nor do astronomers  know of anything that may be outside.  While the geography of the UNIVERSE, which contains this bubble as well as many,  many more, is described by Joseph Smith in D&C Section 76, a knowledge of what is out there eludes most people.

Astronomers also derived from the data this Universe's mass distribution. The map does not show individual structures, it provides astronomers with a general view of how matter clusters together in the cosmos. The distribution matches that expected for a universe composed of about two-thirds dark energy. A new release of data is expected soon.

The  data indicates another roughly three dozen possible exoplanets in the habitable zone in the Milky Way. The Habitable Zone is the orbital region with the right temperature and radiation to allow liquid water on its surface. (Ibid) The  HZ in our Milky way is about 10 light years across. See the image of the MILKY WAY in this entry, the image shows a larger galaxy than was known before recent data became available.  The image shows another outer arm, the 1a. NEW OUTER.  The new image shows the HABITABLE ZONE, essentially the path of the sun around the galaxy. The HZ is about five light years on both sides of the yellow line.  Life like ours most likely will not be found on any planet found outside the HZ. That limits the amount of planets in this galaxy, the number could still be something like 5 billion, that many civilizations could have turned on within the last 5 billion years, considering what has to precede getting a heavy element cloud sufficient in quantity of heavy elements to produce an earth. 


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MORTLOCK,  Daniel, The Age of Quasars, NATURE, Vol. 514, 2 October, 2014

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