Since the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have been able to look a little farther into the cosmic web. The more deeply we have looked, the more we have traveled in time, contemplating and learning what the universe was like billions of years ago.
Now, an international team of astronomers has used the LMT telescope to detect a galaxy located 12,800 million light-years away. Thanks to a new technique that combines gravitational lenses and spectrography, astronomers could see an object that was born shortly after the Big Bang, which makes this galaxy called G09 83808, the oldest object ever detected by the LMT (Large Millimeter Telescope).
The study, published in Nature Astronomy, He details that the team relied on the gravitational lens technique to detect it. This technique, which involves the use of a large object – such as a galactic cluster – to bend and magnify the light of a galaxy located behind it, has become a pillar for the world of astronomy.
“The Big Bang happened 13.7 billion years ago, so (the observed galaxy) was forming within the first billion years after the Big Bang. Seeing an object within the first billion years is remarkable because the Universe was completely ionized, that is, it was too hot and too uniform to form anything, during the first 400 million years, which is why astronomers believe that the first stars and galaxies and all the black holes formed within the First 500 million to a billion years ago This new object is very close to being one of the first galaxies to be formed, “explains Min Yun, leader of the work.
The most distant spiral galaxy
Astronomers have also discovered “what is the most distant spiral galaxy in the known universe”, dubbed A1689B11. The discovery of such an ancient spiral galaxy is crucial in determining when and how the first galaxies began to move from being elliptical to adopting their modern forms.
“This technique allows us to study ancient galaxies in high resolution with unprecedented detail. We can look at 11,000 million years ago in time and be direct witnesses of the formation of the first and primitive spiral arms of a galaxy,” explains Tiantian Yuan, Leader of the work published in Astrophysical Journal.
Then they used the Near-Infrared Integral Field Spectrograph (NIFS) at the Gemini Observatory to verify the structure and nature of this spiral galaxy. Thanks to this latest discovery, astronomers now have some additional clues about how galaxies ended up taking the forms we are familiar with today.
Recall that based on the traditional classification scheme developed by the astronomer Edwin Hubble, galaxies are divided into 3 groups according to their shape or visual morphology: elliptical, spiral and irregular.
“Studying ancient spirals like A1689B11 is the key to discovering the mystery of how and when the Hubble sequence emerges.” Spiral galaxies are exceptionally rare in the early universe, and this discovery opens the door to investigating how galaxies pass from turbulent disks and highly chaotic to calm and thin discs like those of our Milky Way Galaxy, “says Renyue Cen, co-author of the work.
As the scientists warned, this spiral galaxy is creating stars 20 times faster than current galaxies, “as fast as other young galaxies of similar masses in the early universe.” However, it has a very thin disc that rotates slowly. “This type of spiral galaxy has never been seen before in this epoch of the Universe!” Declares Cen.
These amazing characteristics could challenge our understanding of this period in cosmic history, for such qualities contrast with current galaxies.
In the future, the team hopes to conduct more studies of this galaxy to further unravel its structure and nature, and compare it with other spiral galaxies of this era of the universe.