Feeds

Weirdly big galaxy found in young universe

How did that get there?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Astronomers have identified a very weird galaxy, floating around in space some 800m years after the Big Bang. Nothing wrong with that, except that it is much bigger, and more mature than theory predicts, prompting scientists to consider new models of galaxy formation.

Bahram Mobasher of the European Space Agency and the Space Telescope Science Institute said: "This galaxy appears to have bulked up amazingly quickly. It made about eight times more mass in terms of stars than are found in our own Milky Way today, and then, just as suddenly, it stopped forming new stars. It appears to have grown old prematurely."

The galaxy was found among 10,000 others in an infra-red picture taken in 2004 by Hubble during its ultra deep field sky survey. The same patch of sky was then surveyed by the Spitzer telescope.

Spitzer observes at even longer infrared wavelengths than does Hubble, so it can see the older, redder stars that give astronomers an idea about how mature a particular galaxy is.

In Hubble's image, taken with its Near Infrared Camera (NICMOS), the galaxy is relatively faint. But at the longer wavelengths Spitzer can see with its Infrared Array Camera, it is surprisingly bright.

"This would be quite a big galaxy even today," said the National Optical Astronomy Observatory's Mark Dickinson. "At a time when the Universe was only 800 million years-old, it's positively gigantic."

Spitzer can also look at wavelengths 15 times longer than Hubble can see. Researchers found that even in this region of the spectrum the galaxy is blazing, suggesting that it has, at its centre, a super massive black hole.

The standard, and currently most widely accepted, theory of galaxy formation has most galaxies gradually being built up by the merging of smaller galaxies. But this newly identified galaxy must have formed differently, as it appeared so early in the history of the universe.

Some older theories of galaxy formation made room for large, monolithic galaxies to form. This discovery suggests that in some cases at least, this could well be what happened. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.