Extreme submillimetre starburst galaxies

What is the true maximum rate of star formation?

Extreme submillimetre starburst galaxies
Image: Imperial College London

Various studies have suggested the number of stars formed by galaxies each year. Now, in a new study by the Imperial College London, scientists estimated that some galaxies – called extreme starburst galaxies – can produce up to six times as many stars as was thought to be the limit.

For this study, scientists used two catalogues, a Herschel catalogue, and an IRAS catalogue to contrast the sky. Both surveys demonstrate the existence of “extreme” starbursts.

These extreme starburst galaxies are found to produce almost 30,000 solar masses per year- almost equal to the mass of 30,000 Suns.

Earlier studies suggested that the limit was thought to be 5000 solar masses per year. This puzzled scientists about what the true maximum rate of star formation might be, and how such extreme star formation rates can exist.

The study suggests that the extreme starburst galaxies could also produce about what the true maximum rate of star formation might be, and how such extreme star formation rates can exist. It also aids scientists to determine a relationship between the star formation rate in these galaxies and the mass of the black hole.

The study is published online in the Astronomy & Astrophysics journal.