During the early stages of the universe, a fledgling galaxy similar to the Milky Way began to flourish deep in the void of space. In the past, researchers thought that the early universe was a chaotic and hostile environment, but this might not be the case.
A team of researchers spotted a distant galaxy with the help of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter array located in Chile. The infant galaxy, which has been classified under the name of SPT0418-47, shares some traits with the Milky Way.
As the light from the galaxy required 12 billion years to reach Earth, SPT0418-47 is one of the oldest galaxies that have been found. It formed when the universe was less 1.5 billion years old. This also means that astronomers are observing how the galaxy looked like 12 billion years ago
Previous theories and research prompted many astronomers to argue that the early universe was quite wild as galaxies clashed other nearby galaxies and formed chaotic agglomerations of starts. However, SPT0418-47 looks like a flat disk, which is quite surprising as it directly contradicts some tenets of galaxy formation.
Hard to find
The massive distance at which the star is located makes it hard to find. To locate the star, the team relied on a phenomenon known as gravitational shaping, which influences the way in which light can reach Earth and provides clues about the potential position of a galaxy.
With the help of computer modeling methods, the researchers took the images collected via gravitational lensing and reconstructed them in a more conventional way, which depict how the galaxy would look like if it was visible with the help of telescopes. The reconstruction revealed that the galaxy has a quarter of the mass of the Milky Way and half the size.
More information has been published in a scientific journal.