Friday, July 27, 2012


Astronomers have stumbled upon an astonishing spiral galaxy that was born nearly 11 billion years ago, a
finding that could spur a rethink of how galaxies formed after the Big Bang.

Dubbed BX442, the ancient star cluster was discovered in a survey of 300 distant galaxies carried out by the powerful Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

"Lo and behold, with no warning, BX442 and its spiral galaxy just popped out of the image. We couldn't believe it!" Alice Shapley of the University of California, Los Angeles, said of the find reported in the journal Nature.

Formed 3 billion years after Big Bang "We were not expecting such a beautiful pattern, given that the vast majority of star-forming galaxies in the early universe look so irregular and lumpy." BX442 is the first ‘grand design’ spiral galaxy to be observed so early in history.

Located 10.7 billion light years away, it was created some three billion years after the universe was born in a superheated flash. A ‘grand design’ galaxy formation is one with well-defined arms spiralling out in opposite directions from a central cluster of stars in a pattern resembling an S, like our Milky Way.

Studying BX442 may help astronomers understand how spiral galaxies form and may lead to better understanding of
how the universe came into existence.

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