Space

Astronomers detect ultra faint galaxy dating back to the early universe

Image of the galaxy cluster MACS J0416.1-2403, with the position of Tayna highlighted in the box
Image of the galaxy cluster MACS J0416.1-2403, with the position of Tayna highlighted in the box
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Image of the galaxy cluster MACS J0416.1-2403, with the position of Tayna highlighted in the box
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Image of the galaxy cluster MACS J0416.1-2403, with the position of Tayna highlighted in the box

Astronomers havediscovered the faintest galaxy ever detected, dating back to the earlyuniverse. The ancient structure, which has been nicknamed Tayna, isestimated to have existed around 400 million years after thetumultuous birth of our universe, which exploded into life 13.8billion years ago.

The observations thatled to the discovery were carried out by the Hubble Space Telescopeand the Spitzer Space Telescope. By observing an incredibly distantobject such as Tayna, astronomers are able to gaze into the ancientpast and analyze the elusive galactic structures that populated theearly cosmos.

Even with theincredible optical power afforded by orbital telescopes, it wouldhave been extremely challenging to detect the young galaxy withoutthe aid of a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. Gravitationallensing takes place when an extremely massive structure is presentbetween the telescope and a more distant object.

In this particular instance, Hubble had been observing an enormous galaxy cluster known as MACS J0416.1-2403, which is estimated to sit roughly 4 billion light-years from Earth, boasting a mass roughly a million billion times that of our Sun..

It is believed that Tayna is of a similar size to the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, thoughit is thought that Tayna produces up to 10 times as many stars atthe time of observation.

It's possible thatTayna is simply the embryonic form of older galaxies such as our own, and assuch observations of the infantile structure could provide excitingglimpses in to the evolutionary paths of larger, more fully formedgalaxies.

The discovery points toan abundance of ancient targets for the future James Webb Space Telescope,which recently underwent its first mirror instillation, and is setfor launch in 2018.

A paper on the findings has been published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Source: NASA

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