Last updated May 17, 2018 at 12:49 pm
A distant galaxy reveals some secrets
Stars may have begun forming in a distant galaxy 250 million years after the Big Bang, a new study suggests.
The Universe was barely 2 per cent of its current age at the time, which makes the finding of great interest to those involved with a fundamental quest of modern astronomy – locating the earliest galaxies and studying how they influenced the intergalactic medium in the early years.
A team led by Dr Takuya Hashimoto from Japan’s Osaka Sangyo University made spectroscopic observations of the galaxy MACS1149-JD1 between March 2016 and April 2017 and reported a redshift (a parameter used to indicate distance) of 9.1096.
This suggests the observations represent an indication of how the galaxy would have looked when the Universe was about 550 million years old. The researchers then used this precisely determined redshift to demonstrate that the observed red colours of the galaxy represent stellar components.
They found that many stars in MACS1149-JD1 were around 300 million years old at that time, meaning that star formation could have started as early as 250 million years after the Big Bang.
To put this in perspective, the Big Bang occurred around 13.8 billion years ago, so the formation of stars was a mere blink of the eye after the Universe was created.
“Our results indicate that it may be possible to detect such early episodes of star formation in similar galaxies with future telescopes,” they write in an article published in Nature.