Scientists have discovered two enormous new galaxies at the edge of space. If that wasn’t impressive enough, these galaxies are so large that they could soon mesh together to create one of the largest galaxies ever recorded, the Daily Mail reports.
Although they’re newly discovered, these galaxies are old. Researchers believe they developed at a time when the universe was about 780-million-years-old. That’s roughly one-third of the universe’s age today and means that they developed a couple of hundred million years after the Big Bang.
According to the Daily Mail, the discovery sheds new light on how long ago the massive galaxies were formed and the way that dark matter was involved in creating them.
Previous theories had suggested that older galaxies weren’t very big and they were similar to the smaller galaxies that are more common today. But the size of these galaxies and their age refute this theory. What’s more, these two galaxies are just a component of a larger cosmic form. That form is being called a “halo of dark matter” that’s many trillion times larger than the size of our sun.
The discovery was made by a team of international researchers some of whom were from the University College London (UCL). They used Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (Alma), a group of radio telescopes in Chile, to conduct their research.
According to the lead-author of the study, these galaxies showed high levels of star formation gas and dust when the universe was just shy of a billion years old. This indicates that, even at that early stage, galaxies were able to merge and expand their size.
The galaxies are so close together that they’re closer than the Earth is to the center of our galaxy. They’re so close that they were first thought to be one large celestial form. They could also be developing new planets which, of course, opens up the possibility that they could host life, depending on the planetary conditions.
This isn’t the first discovery of galaxies made this year. According to Futurism, in November, astronomers discovered 72 new galaxies.
They are all situated in a region of space that’s called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF). As Futurism reports, this area has been the subject of loads of research in the past. But this time scientists used the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument on the ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. Their visibility was enhanced because they are Lyphan-alpha emitters and it’s easier to see them when they’re observed in one color of light.