Just this week, a team of researchers out of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has reported the discovery of a new galaxy—which they call EGS8p7—estimated to be in the distant space “neighborhood,” and has been estimated to be about 13.2 billion years old. Scientists say, then, that this universe must be about the same age as the universe—born about 600,000 years later than the Big Bang.
“We report the discovery of Lyman-alpha emission (Lyα) in the bright galaxy EGSY-2008532660 (hereafter EGSY8p7) using the Multi-Object Spectrometer For Infra-Red Exploration spectrograph at the Keck Observatory,” explains the study researchers. Furthermore, the research paper adds, “Redshift results from the Doppler effect, the same phenomenon that causes the siren on a fire truck to drop in pitch as the truck passes.”
Galaxy EGS8p7, as seen from the Hubble Space Telescope (wide and top right) and Spitzer Space Telescope (inset, bottom right), taken in infrared. Credit: I. Labbé (Leiden University), NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech
In addition, NASA Hubble astronomy post-doctoral scholar Adi Zitrin comments, “If you look at the galaxies in the early universe, there is a lot of neutral hydrogen that is not transparent to this emission. We expect that most of the radiation from this galaxy would be absorbed by the hydrogen in the intervening space. Yet still we see Lyman-alpha from this galaxy.”
Of course, this is just a new discovery so much more research is necessary before reaching any conclusions. At the same time, scientists know that data from this galaxy will certainly provide us with new insights into the evolution of our solar system.
Zitrin concludes, “We are currently calculating more thoroughly the exact chances of finding this galaxy and seeing this emission from it, and to understand whether we need to revise the timeline of the reionization, which is one of the major key questions to answer in our understanding of the evolution of the universe.”
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