A Fossil Record of Galaxy Encounters

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Science  11 Apr 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5617, pp. 270-274
DOI: 10.1126/science.1081525

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The cosmic infrared background (CIRB) is a record of a large fraction of the emission of light by stars and galaxies over time. The bulk of this emission has been resolved by the Infrared Space Observatory camera. The dominant contributors are bright starburst galaxies with redshift z ∼ 0.8; that is, in the same redshift range as the active galactic nuclei responsible for the bulk of the x-ray background. At the longest wavelengths, sources of redshift z ≥ 2 tend to dominate the CIRB. It appears that the majority of present-day stars have been formed in dusty starbursts triggered by galaxy-galaxy interactions and the buildup of large-scale structures.

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