(ORDO NEWS) — Long ago, in a very young universe, scientists discovered a galaxy that seems too advanced for its age.
It’s called SPT0418-47, and hides 12.4 billion light years away – when the universe was only 1.4 billion years old.
What makes it special is its resemblance to our own Milky Way galaxy. Despite the absence of the characteristic curved arms of a spiral galaxy, SPT0418-47 does indeed consist of a flat, rotating disk. It is comparable in mass to the Milky Way. And, even more surprisingly, it has a galactic bulge, a concentration of stars in the center, like most spiral galaxies.
“This result represents a breakthrough in the study of galaxy formation, showing that the structures we see in neighboring spiral galaxies and in our Milky Way already existed 12 billion years ago,” said astrophysicist Francesca Rizzo of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany. …
Even in the infancy of the universe, everything was much more confusing than today. Galaxies tended to be red-hot, and stars spun chaotically in any direction, probably because they collided with each other.
But recent discoveries are starting to paint a more complex picture. Looking so far into space is extremely difficult, but the combination of ever-improving technology and the development of new observation methods helps astronomers see what lies in these distant and dark corners.
SPT0418-47 is relatively cold and dull and not easy to spot. Between us and SPT0418-47 there is a second galaxy creating the so-called gravitational lens.
Because the mass of the foreground galaxy is so large, it bends space-time around it, forcing the light to travel in a curved path, creating an enlarged circular version of SPT0418-47, captured by the large mm / submillimeter Atacama array in Chile.
Astrophysicists then meticulously reconstructed its ring of light and gas movement using new computer modeling techniques to figure out the shape of a distant galaxy. They expected something relatively messy, but no.
In fact, SPT0418-47 is the most Milky Way-like galaxy ever discovered in about the first 10 percent of the universe’s lifespan.
“What we found was very mysterious; despite the fact that stars form at a high rate and therefore is the site of high-energy processes, SPT0418-47 is the most ordered galactic disk ever observed in the early Universe, ”said astrophysicist Simona Vegetti of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics.
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