In the local (redshift z ≈ 0) Universe, collisional ring galaxies make up only ~0.01% of galaxies1 and are formed by head-on galactic collisions that trigger radially propagating density waves2-4. These striking systems provide key snapshots for dissecting galactic disks and are studied extensively in the local Universe5-9. However, not much is known about distant (z > 0.1) collisional rings10-14. Here we present a detailed study of a ring galaxy at a look-back time of 10.8 Gyr (z = 2.19). Compared with our Milky Way, this galaxy has a similar stellar mass, but has a stellar half-light radius that is 1.5-2.2 times larger and is forming stars 50 times faster. The extended, diffuse stellar light outside the star-forming ring, combined with a radial velocity on the ring and an intruder galaxy nearby, provides evidence for this galaxy hosting a collisional ring. If the ring is secularly evolved15,16, the implied large bar in a giant disk would be inconsistent with the current understanding of the earliest formation of barred spirals17-21. Contrary to previous predictions10-12, this work suggests that massive collisional rings were as rare 11 Gyr ago as they are today. Our discovery offers a unique pathway for studying density waves in young galaxies, as well as constraining the cosmic evolution of spiral disks and galaxy groups.
- Pub Date:
- May 2020
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- Author's version for the main article (10 pages). The Supplementary Information (22 pages) and a combined pdf are provided here http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/~tyuan/paper Published version available online http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41550-020-1102-7