About twelve billion years ago, a young galaxy, alike to our galaxy, was roaming around the cosmos. Astronomers believed that the early universe has been chaotic and that the extreme environment made the galaxies violent and unstable. New research shows that all of these assumptions are wrong. We have further details about the process of forming the planets.
In the new study, the observations made by Chile’s Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), showed that the early galaxy had the features of our mature Milky Way galaxy. The light from the galaxy took about 12 billion years to reach the Earth. This means that astronomers are studying a galaxy which has formed less than 1.5 billion years after the universe was born.
Previous observations made astronomers believe that the period after the birth of the universe was full of adventures. Early galaxies were smashing into each other, and they were merging and forming big masses of stars.
According to Francesca Rizzo, an astronomy Ph.D. student at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, “This result represents a breakthrough in the field of galaxy formation, showing that the structures that we observe in nearby spiral galaxies and in our Milky Way were already in place 12 billion years ago.”
Because of the fact that this galaxy, called SPT0418-47, is too far away, scientists cannot locate it in the sky, because its light is faint. In order to find it, they would need to use something called “gravitational lensing.” The light that comes from distant galaxies doesn’t come on a straight line to Earth. It is actually influenced by the effects of gravity on its way to Earth.