Going Deep for a Catch

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Science  18 Jul 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5631, pp. 279-281
DOI: 10.1126/science.301.5631.279f

In astronomy, going deep means gathering observations of very faint objects, which are billions of light years away and hence represent structures formed early in the universe; these observations provide important clues to the origins of stars, galaxies, and even minor bodies, like Earth. Since the original Hubble Deep Field imaging of the early universe, surveys have been conducted on powerful space-based observatories with follow-up spectroscopy on the most sensitive ground-based telescopes. In fact, the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS) combines the best space-based observatories with the largest ground-based telescopes.

Bunker et al. used a recently developed method to select high redshift galaxies from GOODS data. A high-resolution spectrum of one candidate galaxy at z = 5.78 from the Chandra Deep Field South, collected with the new Deep Imaging Multi-Object Spectrograph on the Keck telescope, showed atomic hydrogen emission typical of a starburst galaxy. This is one of the earliest starbursts observed, and the star formation rate is consistent with cosmological data suggesting that the first stars formed at a redshift of about 10, which the next generation of deep observations may be able to catch. — LR

Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 342, L47 (2003).

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