Hubble telescope detects the oldest known galaxy
Published: 26th Jan 2011 18:48:30
The Hubble Space Telescope has detected what scientists believe may be the oldest galaxy ever observed.
It is thought the galaxy is more than 13 billion years old and existed 480 million years after the Big Bang.
A Nasa team says this was a period when galaxy formation in the early Universe was going into "overdrive".
The image, which has been published in Nature journal, was detected using Hubble's recently installed wide field camera.
According to Professor Richard Bouwens of Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands: "We're seeing these galaxies - 'star cities' - that are building themselves up over cosmic time."
The research team observed rapid growth over a relatively short period of time: Their sample data showed there was just one galaxy in existence about 500 million years after the Big Bang. But this rises to 10 galaxies some 150 million years later. The tally has doubled about 100 million years later.
"You start out with these little seeds in the very early Universe which would eventually have formed stars, then star clusters, baby galaxies then eventually these large majestic galaxies that we know today," according to Professor Bouwens.
"It's very exciting to see this complicated physical process actually take place somewhere that no man has seen before," Professor Bouwens told BBC News.
He compares the early galaxy to a toddler: It is much smaller than older galaxies like our own Milky Way and it is growing more quickly.
"We can use these measurements to learn how fast galaxies grow and build up with cosmic time," according to Professor Bouwens.
Dr Olivia Johnson of the Royal Greenwich Observatory at the National Maritime Museum says that quantifying the rapid evolution of the Universe will reveal a greater detail about what was happening in the early cosmos - such as when the first stars and galaxies formed.
"These are big, open questions in astronomy and the fact that we are finally able to look into the primordial universe for the first time is quite exciting," she said.
The fact that we are finally being able to look into the primordial universe for the first time is quite exciting”
Dr Robert Massey of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) says the new image from Hubble will enable astronomers to test their current theories of the evolution of the Universe.
Professor Bouwens stressed that the observation had yet to be confirmed but that he and his colleagues were "pretty confident" that they had discovered the oldest galaxy caught on camera to date.
"There are many different sorts of objects that can masquerade or look very much like these distant objects. We've done lots of checks and lots of tests and we think that this candidate is OK," he said.
"It's filling in the gaps. Although we have ideas about the formation of the Universe, it is quite difficult to go from the primeval soup in the early stages of the Universe to the Universe we are in. Images like the one we have today helps plot that journey."
Astronomers are eagerly awaiting the launch of Nasa's James Webb telescope in 2014 which will be able to delve perhaps 200 million years further back in cosmic time when galaxies were just beginning.
At 23:01:11 in SportWest Indies beat England by five wickets in a close-fought contest to capture the Twenty20 series with one match to spare.
At 22:37:24 in EnglandA man has been charged with murder after a man died a week after being attacked in his caravan in Essex.
At 22:31:21 in SportFormer director Dave King will begin the next phase of his plan to bring fresh finance to Rangers on Wednesday.
At 22:29:31 in EnglandA British man has been jailed for 16 years by a US court for child sex offences.
At 22:18:36 in EnglandA suspected member of an gang of smash-and-grab-jewellery-robbers was wrestled to the ground by a bystander, police said.
At 22:04:51 in WalesThe family of a pensioner who died has demanded an inquiry into all hospitals under the control of a south Wales health board.
At 22:04:47 in WorldA brutal knife attack on veteran Hong Kong editor Kevin Lau in February has prompted an immediate public outpouring of fear about the future of press independence in China's freest city.
At 22:04:40 in EnglandA Nottinghamshire man had a five-hour wait for an ambulance in the lead up to his death, an inquest was told.
At 22:04:25 in PoliticsA future Labour government would call an in/out referendum on the UK's membership of the EU - but only if it was being asked to transfer more powers to Brussels, Ed Miliband has said.
At 21:59:33 in WorldBomb disposal experts in north-western Pakistan are suffering a heavy death toll as they counter an intense bombing campaign by Islamist militants. M Ilyas Khan reports from Peshawar on the men who lost their lives in the struggle to defuse thousands of bombs planted throughout the region.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2011. Hubble telescope detects the oldest known galaxy [Online] (Updated 26th Jan 2011)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/125644/Hubble-telescope-detects-the-oldest-known-galaxy [Accessed 11th Mar 2014]
News In Other Categories
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
A future Labour government would call an in/out referendum on the UK's membership of the EU - but only if it was being asked to transfer more powers to Brussels, Ed Miliband has said.
New York's financial regulator has called on firms to submit proposals to set up "regulated" exchanges for digital currencies like Bitcoin.
Director Lynne Ramsay has settled a legal dispute with the producers of the film Jane Got a Gun, which she quit days before shooting began last year.
There has been a sixth death at a Belfast hospital where treatment delays could have been a contributing cause of death, the BBC has learned.
MPs have voted through a controversial measure that gives England's health secretary sweeping powers to close local hospitals, even if they are performing well.