'Mature' Galaxies Around Not Long After Big Bang, Study Says | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

'Mature' Galaxies Around Not Long After Big Bang, Study Says

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope to peer some 11 billion light-years into space and as many years back in time have seen something they didn't expect: fully formed galaxies when the universe was still quite young.

Galaxies come in three broad categories — spirals, such as our own Milky Way and neighboring Andromeda; ellipticals; and lenticular galaxies that look like hybrids of the other two.

This categorization is known as the Hubble Sequence, and scientists have long wondered how long after the Big Bang it took for these islands of stars to form and take their recognizable forms.

BoMee Lee, of the University of Maryland, who is the lead author in the new study, has concluded that the familiar spirals, ellipticals and lenticulars existed at least as far back as 11.5 billion years ago, not long (on a cosmological scale, anyway) after the Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago.

"The Hubble Sequence underpins a lot of what we know about how galaxies form and evolve; finding it to be in place this far back is a significant discovery," Lee says.

"This is the only comprehensive study to date of the visual appearance of the large, massive galaxies that existed so far back in time," the study's co-author, Arjen van der Wel, said in a statement. "The galaxies look remarkably mature, which is not predicted by galaxy formation models to be the case that early on in the history of the universe."

So, what do they actually look like? The researchers say they "appear to be split between blue star-forming galaxies with a complex structure — including discs, bulges and messy clumps — and massive red galaxies that are no longer forming stars."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Peru's Pitmasters Bury Their Meat In The Earth, Inca-Style

Step up your summer grilling game by re-creating the ancient Peruvian way of cooking meat underground in your own backyard. It's called pachamanca, and it yields incredibly moist and smoky morsels.
WAMU 88.5

Food Packaging & Pricing

Have you ever popped open a bag of potato chips only to be disappointed by the number of crisps in your bag? It's not just you. To avoid raising prices, companies often increase their "nonfunctional slack fill" or the difference between the volume of product and its container. We talk about how food packaging affects your recipe and wallet.

WAMU 88.5

Environmental Outlook: The Growing Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement

A look at the growing fossil fuel divestment movement.

NPR

Flood Maps Can Get Much Sharper With A Little Supercomputing Oomph

Entrepreneurs are turning to Oak Ridge National Lab's supercomputer to make all sorts of things, including maps that are much more accurate in predicting how a neighborhood will fare in a flood.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.