Earlier Astronomers had observed a young galaxy similar to Milky way. They often thought this infant universe as a chaotic, extreme environment where galaxies are unstable and violent.
However, a new study suggests that this infant galaxy has features similar to those of our own more mature Milky Way. Light from the galaxy took 12 billion years to reach us.
According to a report by Cnet.com, this discovery means that the astronomers are looking back in time at a galaxy that formed less than 1.5 billion years after the birth of the universe. The galaxy has been termed as SPT0418-47.
The findings have been published in the Journal Nature on Wednesday.
“This result represents a breakthrough in the field of galaxy formation, showing that the structures that we observe in nearby spiral galaxies and in our Milky Way were already in place 12 billion years ago,” Francesca Rizzo, an astronomy Ph.D. student at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics and first author on the study, said in a statement.
Because SPT0418-47 is so far away, it’s difficult to locate in the sky because its light is so faint. To find and characterize SPT0418-47, the research team took advantage of a phenomenon known as “gravitational lensing.”
Light from distant galaxies does not travel on a straight line to Earth — it’s influenced by the effects of gravity on its way here. Nearby galaxies distort and reshape the light from more distant galaxies as it travels to our telescopes.
The reconstruction showed SPT0418-47 doesn’t quite have the large, spiral arms we’re used to seeing in the Milky Way, but it does have a disc and a giant bulge at its center, reminiscent of our home galaxy. The European Southern Observatory suggests it’s a Milky Way lookalike.