When two galaxies merge, something incredible happens: there are some periods of stellar baby booms. A group of scientists, led by Lingyu Wang, has used a sample of more than 200,000 galaxies in order to confirm the fact that galaxy mergers are the reason behind starbursts. This is the first time that scientists used artificial intelligence in a study about galaxy merging. All the results are published in the Astronomy & Astrophysics journal.
One of the most critical questions in astronomy is how and when stars formed in galaxies. The universe is full of hundreds of billions of galaxies, and their shapes and forms are various. If we are to take a clear example, we will choose the Sombrero Galaxy, or the Black Eye Galaxy, or the Milky Way. Each has hundreds of billions of stars. But when did they appear? And how?
There’s a popular theory there that says that galaxy mergers are best friends with short starburst phases. Mergers produce shock waves in the interstellar gas, which would ignite significant baby booms of stars. Astronomers have confirmed this theory – they analyzed more than 200,000 galaxies. They found twice the number of starbursts in merging galaxies, in comparison to single galaxies.
Due to the fact that their database was so big, they built a deep-learning algorithm, which then taught itself to find merging galaxies. One of the authors of the study says that the advantage of artificial intelligence is that it improves the reproducibility of the study due to the fact that the algorithm is constant when it comes to its defined as a merger. It’s also excellent preparation for the upcoming surveys, which will show billions of galaxies. They also need artificial intelligence without a doubt.