National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

ALMA Detected the Most Distant Oxygen

| Science

Artist’s concept of SXDF-NB1006-2. Many young bright stars are located in the galaxy and ionize the gas inside and around the galaxy. Green color indicates the ionized oxygen detected by ALMA, whereas purple shows the distribution of ionized hydrogen detected by the Subaru Telescope. Original size (3.43MB)

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) detected a clear signal from oxygen in a galaxy located 13.1 billion light-years away from us. This is the most distant oxygen ever detected. Oxygen in this galaxy seems to be ionized by a number of young giant stars, and this detection is a key step to understand the enigmatic “cosmic reionization” in the early history of the Universe. These observations have opened a new window to probe the early Universe with ALMA.

These observation results were published online as Inoue et al. “Detection of an oxygen emission line from a high redshift galaxy in the reionization epoch” by the journal Science on Thursday, June 16, 2016