AMHERST (CBS) — A group of astronomers say they have discovered traces of a huge galaxy of a kind previously thought to be “mythical.”
According to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Kate Whitaker, an assistant professor at the university, along with astronomers from the University of Arizona, discovered the galaxy by chance using over five dozen radio telescopes in the mountains of Chile.
Until now, there has been no evidence of such large galaxies, which scientists believe date back to the early days of the universe, the news release said.
Scientists said the galaxy was hidden behind a cloud of stardust. The light from the galaxy is estimated to have taken 12.5 billion years to reach Earth, which means it was formed when the universe was very young, and that it is growing rapidly.
Christina Williams, the lead author of the paper, as well as Whitaker, are both UMass Amherst alumni. They said the discovery reveals new knowledge about the origins of some of the biggest galaxies in the universe.
“Why is it so big so early in the universe? And the fact that we found it so serendipitously, it just has to make you wonder how many other galaxies are there like this?” Whitaker said.
Researchers are hoping to learn more about the galaxy when a new space telescope launches in 2021.