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the astronomers of The telescope Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array ( SOUL ) have found a galaxy is extremely distant and, therefore, very young, with an amazing resemblance to the Milky Way . The galaxy is so far away that its light has taken more than 12,000 million years to reach us; that is to say, it is observed as it was when the Universe was only 1,400 million years . Another surprise that has been revealed is that, contrary to what was expected, it has a very harmonious : contradicts the theories of all the galaxies in the early Universe were turbulent and unstable, a kind of chaos star . This discovery, published in the journal “Nature” challenges our understanding of how galaxies are formed.

“this Is a great breakthrough in the field of the formation of these systems, as it shows that the structures we observe in the nearby spiral galaxies and our own Milky Way already had it that way makes it 12,000 million years,” explains Francesca Rizzo , a phd student at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany, and lead author of the study.


while the galaxy who studied astronomers, call SPT0418-47 , does not seem to have spiral arms, if it shares two features with our cosmic neighbourhood: on the one hand, it has a rotating disk ; and, on the other, presents a large cluster of stars crowded around the galaxy. In fact, this is the first time that you see a cluster so early in the history of the Universe, which means that SPT0418-47 is the galaxy similar to the Milky Way’s most distant ever discovered.

“The big surprise was to find that, in reality, it looks like other galaxies closest to us, to the contrary of what was expected by previous observations, less detailed,” he says for his part, Filippo Fraternali , of the Astronomical Institute Kapteyn of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and co-author of the research. In the early Universe, the young galaxies were still in the process of formation, so the researchers hoped that they were chaotic and had no distinctive structures typical of systems more mature, like the Milky Way.

Effect of “magnifier”

Because they are so far away, the comments to the detail -even with the most powerful telescopes – are almost impossible. The team overcame this obstacle by using a nearby galaxy as a sort of “magnifying glass”, an effect known as gravitational lens , which allows SOUL to see the distant past with an unprecedented detail. “In this effect, the gravitational attraction of nearby galaxy distorts and bends the light from the distant galaxy, making it appear distorted and magnified,” explain the researchers.

And so it is as it appeared the ring of light, almost perfect. The research team reconstructed the actual shape of the distant galaxy and the movement of the gas from the data of SOUL using a new technique of computer modeling . “What we found was pretty unnerving; despite the fact that they form stars at a high rate and, therefore, is the site of processes high-energy, SPT0418-47 is the disk of galaxies best ordered ever observed in the early Universe,” said co-author Simona Vegetti , also of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics. “This result is quite unexpected and has important implications on how we think galaxies evolve”.

The astronomers point out, however, that although SPT0418-47 has a disc and other features similar to those of the spiral galaxies that we see today, expect that to evolve into a galaxy of different, class elliptical.

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