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First galaxies could have been born much earlier than expected

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 April 2011 07:47
Published on Wednesday, 13 April 2011 07:31

Astronomers have found a galaxy that could have formed just 200 million years after the Big Bang. The international team used a natural gravitational lens to spot the newly discovered object in images from the Hubble Space Telescope. It could be a member of a long-sought and large population of galaxies containing stars that helped reionize the neutral material that filled the cosmos at that time, making it transparent to ultraviolet light. The team publish their results in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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The giant cluster of galaxies Abell 383. This acts as a gravitational lens, creating two images (circled) of the galaxy thought to have formed early after the Big Bang. Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Richard (CRAL) and J-P. Kneib (LAM). Acknowledgement: Marc Postman (STScI)

 

Hubble Space Telescope release