Sunday, 26 May 2019

Distant galaxy reveals oldest stars ever found

Exceptionally high rate of star formation in a galaxy that is 13.28 billion light years away.  Discovery has baffled astronomers.

Scientists have spotted the Galaxy MACS1149-JD1, the most distant galaxy ever seen. Its stars are believed to have formed 250 million years after the Big Bang.

A team of British-led astronomers used an Atacama Large Millimetre/Submillimetre Array (Alma), a radio telescope, and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), both in Chile’s Atacama desert, to study the galaxy.

Dr Nicolas Laporte, from University College London, who co-led the team, declared: “This is an exciting discovery as this galaxy is seen at a time when the Universe was only 500 million years old and yet it already has a population of mature stars.”

“We are therefore able to use this galaxy to probe into an earlier, completely uncharted, period of cosmic history.”

Co-author Professor Richard Ellis, also from UCL, added: “Determining when cosmic dawn occurred is akin to the Holy Grail of cosmology and galaxy formation.” The “cosmic dawn” refers to the period in which the first galaxies emerged from total darkness.

“With MACS1149-JD1, we have managed to probe history beyond the limits of when we can actually detect galaxies with current facilities.

“There is renewed optimism we are getting closer and closer to witnessing directly the birth of starlight.”

The Milky Way as seen from the southern hemisphere.

 

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