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Why Galaxies Quit Making Stars

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  • Why Galaxies Quit Making Stars

    By Alton Parrish (Reporter)

    Galaxy clusters are rare regions of the universe consisting of hundreds of galaxies containing trillions of stars, as well as hot gas and dark matter.

    It has long been known that when a galaxy falls into a cluster, star formation is fairly rapidly shut off in a process known as “quenching.” What actually causes the stars to quench, however, is a mystery, despite several plausible explanations having been proposed by astronomers.

    A new international study led by astronomer Ryan Foltz, a former graduate student at the University of California, Riverside, has made the best measurement yet of the quenching timescale, measuring how it varies across 70 percent of the history of the universe. The study has also revealed the process likely responsible for shutting down star formation in clusters.

    Hubble Space Telescope image of one of the SpARCS clusters used in the study, seen as it appeared when the universe was 4.8 billion years old.

    Click image for larger version

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