The newborn galaxies in this study were formed within the first 800 million years of the universe. Image credit: NAOJ/R. Gendler
By looking at some of the youngest galaxies in the universe, formed soon after the Big Bang, astronomers have discovered swirling gas within their structures. Having being formed nearly 13 billion years ago, these newborn structures appear to spin like a whirlpool, similar to our Milky Way. This is the first time such a motion has been detected at an early stage of the cosmos’ history.
This study was led by Dr Renske Smit of the Kavli Institute of Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, where they used the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) in Chile. Using this telescope array, Smit and collaborators were able to detect normal star-forming galaxies within the first billion years after the Big Bang.
These galaxies are incredibly distant, which means by the time their light reaches us, it would have travelled for billions of years. This distant light allows astronomers to see what the galaxy was like at an early age, and in this case, it told Smit what these galaxies were like 800 years after the beginning of the universe. It is ...