10.7 Billion Year-Old Spiral Galaxy Stuns Astronomers

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10.7 Billion Year-Old Spiral Galaxy Stuns Astronomers

image

BX442 is so old that it shouldn't really be a spiral galaxy at all.

Over the past 22 years, the venerable Hubble space telescope has shown humanity a great many wonders from the distant past of our galaxy and universe. Now, continuing its mission to find the oldest and weirdest bodies in the universe, Hubble has pointed astronomers towards an odd spiral galaxy that looks to be around 10.7 billion years old. While spiral galaxies are by no means uncommon in the modern universe, this ancient spiral, named BX442, is the first of its kind to be seen so far back in spacetime.

Spotted by Hubble and refined by the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, the elegantly-named BX442 perplexed astronomers when Hubble first picked it up. Being as old as it is, the galaxy shouldn't have such a refined spiral shape; if we're right about the Big Bang, the universe should've been too much of a hot mess back then to allow anything so pretty and defined to form. So what's up with BX442?

A team of researchers, writing in Nature, think they may have found the answer. According to David Law of the University of Toronto's Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, a lead author in the study, the explanation for BX442's weird shape lies in some quiet assistance from a small friend. In this case, that friend is a small dwarf galaxy floating around the outskirts of the spiral.

"You can get a little extra help if you've got a satellite galaxy orbiting around," said Law. "It gives that extra little gravitational kick to help accentuate the strength of the arm and make it into one of those eye-popping examples like the Whirlpool galaxy that you see all the pictures of."

"What we've learned when we look at galaxies at that epoch is that they're very dynamically hot," continued Law. "Even though we see some discs existing at that time, they're very thick and puffy, whereas the Milky Way has an... amount of random motion only about a tenth or so the amount of ordered rotation, giving rise to a very thin disc."

As the authors point out, BX442's spiral arms may have been a transient feature, a cosmological accident of sorts; further investigation into ancient galaxies should yield further clues. Armed with proof that spiral galaxies of this kind did indeed exist during the universe's relative infancy, Law and his colleagues are off to point Hubble at some more regions they suspect of harboring ancient galaxies. Is BX442 the only super-ancient spiral galaxy out there, or is its formation not as unique as it first appears?

Source: Nature via BBC

Image (Artist's Impression): Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics/Joe Bergeron

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Very interesting. While such formations are probably rare, there are pretty much bound to be other at least somewhat similar formations out there.
Funny, by the way, isn't it: We speak of a "small dwarf galaxy", yet we have to consider that it's still incredibly, unimaginably large in comparison to anything we know and experience first-hand. Everything's relative.

EDIT not worth a new post:

Brad Shepard:
Science: Getting proven wrong every week.

Sounds like you stopped reading halfway through the article.

Alternative headline: Astronomers Discover Dwarf Tossing to be Older Tradition Than Previously Suspected

Science: Getting proven wrong every week.

If you want read a free version of the paper: http://arxiv.org/abs/1207.4196

Interesting. I wonder when Hubble will get retired, it's been up there for quite a while now.

I think the plan is to keep Hubble running until it stops working.

--

Brad Shepard:
Science: Getting proven wrong every week.

Well if it didnt get proven wrong, it wouldnt be science would it?

Pinkamena:
Interesting. I wonder when Hubble will get retired, it's been up there for quite a while now.

They upgraded it quite a bit since its launch. theyll probably keep doing that.

Genuine Evil:
I always found it sad that the pictures we get from Hubble are actually black and white and that all the beautiful colors we see are just Astronomers messing around in Photoshop

Well yes, and then again, no. It's more likely that the pictures are 'False Colour' pictures, in which (for example) blue represents x-rays, green is gamma rays and red is infrared. I mean, yes, sometimes Scientists go and and colour stuff in for no other reason than to get interest from the public, but sometimes we are actually being productive :)

draythefingerless:

Pinkamena:
Interesting. I wonder when Hubble will get retired, it's been up there for quite a while now.

They upgraded it quite a bit since its launch. theyll probably keep doing that.

The successor to Hubble is planned to go up around 2018. It's called the James Webb Space Telescope and looks... interesting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Webb_Space_Telescope

I didn't actually realise that galaxies could orbit other galaxies. It's interesting to see that as you scale up, things stay shockingly similar.

stoddapb:

draythefingerless:

Pinkamena:
Interesting. I wonder when Hubble will get retired, it's been up there for quite a while now.

They upgraded it quite a bit since its launch. theyll probably keep doing that.

The successor to Hubble is planned to go up around 2018. It's called the James Webb Space Telescope and looks... interesting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Webb_Space_Telescope

it's a Star Destroyer with a satellite dish!

WaysideMaze:
I didn't actually realise that galaxies could orbit other galaxies. It's interesting to see that as you scale up, things stay shockingly similar.

There's 2 "proper" galaxies and a load of dwarf ones orbiting the Milky Way too, it's pretty cool.

Also in response to the anti science person:

Science: Finding new and exciting things every week while presenting testable hypotheses as to how they got there.

Brad Shepard:
Science: Getting proven wrong every week.

Religion: Proving itself wrong every minute of everyday.

draythefingerless:

Brad Shepard:
Science: Getting proven wrong every week.

Well if it didnt get proven wrong, it wouldnt be science would it?

Yeah that's kind of the point of science, really. It's not really first come, first served... I like when we learn things that are contrary to things we already thought we knew. Nice reminder just how much there is left to learn.

PotluckBrigand:

draythefingerless:

Brad Shepard:
Science: Getting proven wrong every week.

Well if it didnt get proven wrong, it wouldnt be science would it?

Yeah that's kind of the point of science, really. It's not really first come, first served... I like when we learn things that are contrary to things we already thought we knew. Nice reminder just how much there is left to learn.

Yup, there are many who believe we will never be able to travel at lightspeed...

Give it 10 years ;D

Brad Shepard:
Science: Getting proven wrong every week.

Care to post an explanation with this post?

GoddyofAus:

Brad Shepard:
Science: Getting proven wrong every week.

Religion: Proving itself wrong every minute of everyday.

Care to post some tact next time?

GoddyofAus:

Brad Shepard:
Science: Getting proven wrong every week.

Religion: Proving itself wrong every minute of everyday.

LULZ lest it is not as bad on here as utube, cannot watch a science video with religious trolls invading to tell how foolish and lost we all are sigh......

draythefingerless:

Pinkamena:
Interesting. I wonder when Hubble will get retired, it's been up there for quite a while now.

They upgraded it quite a bit since its launch. theyll probably keep doing that.

Nah, they can't do that no more, not after they retired their space shuttles.

arc1991:

Yup, there are many who believe we will never be able to travel at lightspeed...

Give it 10 years ;D

Sorry to be a party-pooper, but I honestly doubt FTL will ever exist. We might be able to bend space-time to our will, making a shortcut, but actually moving faster than the speed of light will likely never happen. So much of our modern physics build upon the notion that the speed of light is the absolute speed barrier, and it has been "proven" in thousands of experiments.

As someone about to start a physics degree, it's great to be reminded that astronomers are still discovering new and surprising things. Plus, the universe is big enough that there are no doubt a few more surprises lurking out there.

cerebus23:

GoddyofAus:

Brad Shepard:
Science: Getting proven wrong every week.

Religion: Proving itself wrong every minute of everyday.

LULZ lest it is not as bad on here as utube, cannot watch a science video with religious trolls invading to tell how foolish and lost we all are sigh......

I'd say its worse here. You can't make any sort of religious statement or anything that may be interpreted as religious without a bunch of atheists coming down and calling you a bigoted asshole who refuses change.

NameIsRobertPaulson:
Care to post some tact next time?

Nothing wrong with suggesting religion is a fallacious product of its time, indelibly bias, provably wrong and best equipped to bring about its own destruction.

Religion isn't sacred and it's okay to point out its floors. You should no more humor the schizophrenic man than the supposedly righteous. If we don't remind people how silly their beliefs are remind them of the thousands of faiths that have come and gone, dissolved by history and reason, we'll never be rid of ignorance.

EDIT: typo.

saintdane05:

cerebus23:

GoddyofAus:

Religion: Proving itself wrong every minute of everyday.

LULZ lest it is not as bad on here as utube, cannot watch a science video with religious trolls invading to tell how foolish and lost we all are sigh......

I'd say its worse here. You can't make any sort of religious statement or anything that may be interpreted as religious without a bunch of atheists coming down and calling you a bigoted asshole who refuses change.

Generally do not read religious topics or obvious troll topics for it, i do watch a lot of national geo discovery stuff on youtube and rather annoyed frequently at the responses to something that i find amazing or beautiful only to have that stuff brought up.

Political blog sites are getting worse for it, nothing like people arguing politics then someone got to bring their god into it.

IMHO we have freedom of religion not freedom from religion, so i think people that want an out and out ban on god or gods are completely wrong.

But that said there is a few very important things, belief is a private matter, its someones belief, it should remain a private matter. Especially in the context of a discussion that has nothing to do at all with religion.

And having been raised catholic, and have read good chunks of the bible over the years, most people i see claim to be christian or catholic, really have no idea wth they are talking about. because the way they treat others is not the way jesus acted towards others or told people to act, thou shall not judge being chief among them.

Way too much i am better than you or you are ignorant and stuff along those line when people inject religion into a discussion.

Genuine Evil:
I always found it sad that the pictures we get from Hubble are actually black and white and that all the beautiful colors we see are just Astronomers messing around in Photoshop

Its just little white lies that keep the public interested in space. If we didn't do so we'd never get of this planet.

saintdane05:
I'd say its worse here. You can't make any sort of religious statement or anything that may be interpreted as religious without a bunch of atheists coming down and calling you a bigoted asshole who refuses change.

Last time I checked religion operates to impose aged social values most of the time rather than lead anyone to a higher understanding.

Captcha: Face The Music; Wow the sentience program works and is very sarcastic.

BX is the place for your business,
PS we got arms like Jesus!

WaysideMaze:
I didn't actually realise that galaxies could orbit other galaxies. It's interesting to see that as you scale up, things stay shockingly similar.

The Milky Way actually has some of it's own globular clusters.

Pinkamena:

arc1991:

Yup, there are many who believe we will never be able to travel at lightspeed...

Give it 10 years ;D

Sorry to be a party-pooper, but I honestly doubt FTL will ever exist. We might be able to bend space-time to our will, making a shortcut, but actually moving faster than the speed of light will likely never happen. So much of our modern physics build upon the notion that the speed of light is the absolute speed barrier, and it has been "proven" in thousands of experiments.

Plus it explains why the Combine hasn't enslaved humanity yet.

NameIsRobertPaulson:

Brad Shepard:
Science: Getting proven wrong every week.

Care to post an explanation with this post?

GoddyofAus:

Brad Shepard:
Science: Getting proven wrong every week.

Religion: Proving itself wrong every minute of everyday.

Care to post some tact next time?

You came across sounding like as much as an ass as Goddy did.

On topic... I wonder if they will ever be able to make something that can get pictures of other galaxies as they are now. Not the billions of years delay.

Trippy Turtle:
On topic... I wonder if they will ever be able to make something that can get pictures of other galaxies as they are now. Not the billions of years delay.

Like, how? Teleporting photons and radiation here instantaniously? That'll probably take us a while to develop...

We can already look at nearby galaxies (especially satellite galaxies of the Milky Way) with a relatively short delay. The closest major galaxy is Andromeda at about 2.5 million lightyears, so the delay is, cosmologically speaking, pretty short, but it's still looking quite a while into the past of course.

Here's a cool list:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nearest_galaxies
I never knew the Milky Way had so many satellites.

I'm not saying it's dark matter, but it's dark matter.

Clearing the Eye:

NameIsRobertPaulson:
Care to post some tact next time?

Nothing wrong with suggesting religion is a fallacious product of its time, indelibly bias, provably wrong and best equipped to bring about its own destruction.

Religion isn't sacred and it's okay to point out its floors. You should no more humor the schizophrenic man than the supposedly righteous. If we don't remind people how silly their beliefs are remind them of the thousands of faiths that have come and gone, dissolved by history and reason, we'll never be rid of ignorance.

EDIT: typo.

Well I just pointed out yours!!!!!!! LOLOLOLOLOL

Anyway, religion isn't provably wrong, fundamentalism is. And as you state, religions have come and gone in the past, why not Christianity already? In an age as enlightened as ours don't you think it would be easier to rid ourselves of something so obviously wrong than something else several hundred years ago?

I don't really want to get into a religious discussion, I only raise points to quell generalisations, incorrect assumptions and general hypocricy on the topic of close-mindedness but it does grow tiresome, not because the person I'm arguing with is unintelligent in any way but because it becomes obvious that the issue is a more complex one than can be solved by two people arguing on the internet. But I'm a mathematician and logical fallacies can actually hurt so I do feel the urge to step in once and again, and with that I post this:

Mathematics: Proving itself right once and never having to return to the matter again.

Nyaliva:

Clearing the Eye:

NameIsRobertPaulson:
Care to post some tact next time?

Nothing wrong with suggesting religion is a fallacious product of its time, indelibly bias, provably wrong and best equipped to bring about its own destruction.

Religion isn't sacred and it's okay to point out its floors. You should no more humor the schizophrenic man than the supposedly righteous. If we don't remind people how silly their beliefs are remind them of the thousands of faiths that have come and gone, dissolved by history and reason, we'll never be rid of ignorance.

EDIT: typo.

Well I just pointed out yours!!!!!!! LOLOLOLOLOL

Anyway, religion isn't provably wrong, fundamentalism is. And as you state, religions have come and gone in the past, why not Christianity already? In an age as enlightened as ours don't you think it would be easier to rid ourselves of something so obviously wrong than something else several hundred years ago?

I don't really want to get into a religious discussion, I only raise points to quell generalisations, incorrect assumptions and general hypocricy on the topic of close-mindedness but it does grow tiresome, not because the person I'm arguing with is unintelligent in any way but because it becomes obvious that the issue is a more complex one than can be solved by two people arguing on the internet. But I'm a mathematician and logical fallacies can actually hurt so I do feel the urge to step in once and again, and with that I post this:

Mathematics: Proving itself right once and never having to return to the matter again.

All religion is in fact provably wrong. Christianity is one of the easier myths to debunk.

    God, we are told, made light three days before the sun (because the people writing the fiction--the Bible--didn't know it was stars that provided light).

    God, being all knowing and infinitely powerful, would know the outcome of Earth before creating it.
    In the same way, God would know who will and won't worship him before you're even made.

    A being that created everything would have to then be responsible for all that is negative. Why, then, would such a being be angered when their creation, an exact mirror of Its will, behaves in a certain fashion?

    God must have created Lucifer (and known he would fall from grace, having made him exactly as God wished) and all that he reportedly reviles. If God knows all, including who will and won't participate in the evils he made, why make them?

    We are told the entire Earth flooded and every human died, with one man and his family of three others managing to find and save two of every species of animal on Earth, which is utterly absurd and impossible even with today's technology.

    The Bible reports a plague and near genocidal tide of death in Egypt that never occurred.
    Similarly, no reliable evidence exists that the Jews were ever enslaved at that time in that location.

    Numerous supposed miracles are reported, none of which have any evidence at all for their happening.

"Just think of how good a book would be if it were authored by an omniscient deity. There is not a single line in the bible or Qur'an that could not have been authored by a first century person. There is not one reference to anything. There are pages and pages about how to sacrifice animals, and keep slaves, and who to kill and why. There's nothing about electricity, DNA, infectious disease or the principles of infectious disease. There's nothing particularly useful, and there's a lot of Bronze Age barbarism in there, and superstition."

Etc., etc., etc. The list is quite long.

Funnily enough, at the time of Jesus's life, there was something of a plague of messiahs; there were literally hundreds of people in every city claiming to be gods. One of the more famous was born on the 25th of December. His popularity was rival to that of Jesus at its height and it is for this reason that the early Christians (not yet known as such) adopted the date--in hopes of profiting off the popular day of celebration.

Also, you ask why Christianity still exists while the thousands of other faiths from ages passed have faded and been forgotten. This is because Christianity is very, very young, existing for considerably less than two thousand years. The religions of old--such as those practiced in Asia, Africa and Australia--lasted tens of thousands of years before being abandoned. For example, the Aboriginal peoples of Australia could have been following their complicated spiritualism known as Dreamtime, for some forty thousand years.

Not even halfway through a page and this became a science vs religion argument, over a comment I laughed at and didn't interpret to be anti-science/pro-religion in anyway whatsoever. Way to go guys.

OT: There are people out there discovering new galaxies and figuring out how this universe began, and here I am trying to will myself out of bed to do nothing all day. Really puts things in perspective. Regardless, this is a cool discovery. I don't know shit about the universe, but its always been interesting to me.

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