Astronomers have discovered a 13.2 billion year old galaxy, even though current theories suggest it should not have been possible.
A team of researchers at the California Institute of Technology has spotted a galaxy earlier this year, now called EGS8p7 that may be almost as old as the Universe itself. The data was collected using the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope from NASA. Last month the astronomers published their findings in Astrophysical Journal Letters.
According to astronomers the Universe is believed to be 13.8 billion years old, while EGS8p7 has reached the amazing age of 13.2 billion.
The technique used by astronomers to measure the distance to other galaxies requires a redshift. This technique causes the light to stretch as it travels and as it stretches it becomes redder. The redshift of EGS8p7 was set at 8.68.
Tech Times reports that the discovery astonished the astronomers, because an existing theory says that in its early beginnings the Universe could not transmit light and was extremely dark due to a great amount of neutral hydrogen which would absorb any radiation.
Researchers at University College London are currently investigating this aspect and are trying to understand what made this discovery possible.
“The surprising aspect about the present discovery is that we have detected this Lyman-alpha line in an apparently faint galaxy at a redshift of 8.68, corresponding to a time when the universe should be full of absorbing hydrogen clouds,” commented Richard Ellis, professor of astrophysics at University College London.
One potential theory is that the galaxy EGS8p7 holds a large population of uncommonly hot stars, suggested Sirio Belli, a researcher who worked on the project. He says that this might have created a huge bubble of ionized hydrogen in an early stage of the galaxy, much earlier than it happens in the case of other galaxies.
Adi Zitrin, a postdoctoral scholar at Hubble says that the research team is now examining more thoroughly the possibility of discovering a new galaxy by seeing those types of emissions coming from it, which could lead to a revision of the reionization timeline.
This could potentially help humans better understand the evolution of the Universe, adds Zitrin.
Image Source: nanowerk