Researchers at Caltech have discovered a bright new galaxy that could change our understanding of the evolution of the universe since the Big Bang.
Researchers from the California Institute of Technology may have discovered the oldest known galaxy in the universe. According to a report from the Inquisitr, the galaxy is estimated to be about 13.2 billion years old.
The light from the galaxy may have been emitted when it was still very young. It has been traveling for 13.2 billion years to reach the lenses of the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. The galaxy was named EGS8p7 by Caltech scientists using the alphanumeric nomenclature system reserved for distant objects in space.
The galaxy is unique because it is much brighter than any other galaxy the same age. In fact, the researchers didn’t even expect to detect light from the ancient galaxy. Scientists believe that the galaxy may have had special properties that “enabled it to create a large bubble of ionized hydrogen” earlier than other galaxies from its time.
The large bubble of hydrogen gas has been encasing the galaxy for billions of years, allowing new stars to form within. The hydrogen has consumed the majority of the ultraviolet radiation, leaving it undetectable until now.
The discovery of the galaxy could permanently change our understanding of the universe’s evolution. The phenomenon of reionization, where these hydrogen ions become incorporated into the star formation process, could very well help explain the timeline of the universe directly following the big bang.