TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Scientists Find Mature Galaxy Eight Times Larger Than Milky Way

Scientists Find Mature Galaxy Eight Times Larger Than Milky Way

AFP News Wire (
Tue, 27 Sep 2005 17:36:26 -0500

US astronomers said they had found a vast, mature galaxy using NASA's
Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes.

They were particularly impressed by the fact stars seemed to have been
formed in the galaxy.

"This is truly a significant object," says Richard Ellis, of the
California Institute of Technology and a member of the discovery team.

"Although we are looking back to when the universe was only six
percent of its present age, this galaxy has already built up a mass in
stars eight times that of the Milky Way."

He said the fact such a galaxy had already completed its star
formation "implies a yet earlier period of intense activity."

"It's like crossing the ocean and meeting a lone seagull, a forerunner
of land ahead. There is now every reason to search beyond this object
for the cosmic dawn when the first such systems switched on," he said.

Bahram Mobasher of the Space Telescope Science Institute, leader of
the science team, said the galaxy initially looked "young and small,
like other known galaxies at similar distances".

"Instead, we found evidence that it is remarkably mature and much more
massive. This is the surprising discovery," he said.

Though astronomers generally believe most galaxies were built up by
mergers of smaller galaxies, the new discovery suggests that at least
a few galaxies formed quickly and wholly long ago. For such a large
galaxy, this would have been a vastly explosive star birth event.

The findings were due to be published in the December 20, 2005, issue
of the Astrophysical Journal.

Hubble Site

Copyright 2005 Agence France Presse.

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