Friday, September 22, 2006
500 galaxies found
Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have found hundreds of young galaxies that existed less than a billion years after the Big Bang.
The discovery is unprecedented, since astronomers had not even seen one galaxy that existed when the universe was that young.
The 500 galaxies found, of which 28 are seen here, represent the most comprehensive compilation of galaxies in the early universe, astronomers say.
(NASA, ESA, R. Bouwens and G. Illingworth, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA)
The discovery came from an analysis of two of the deepest observations Hubble ever made of the universe, in 2003 and 2004.
The head of the Hubble study, Rychard Bouwens of the University of California, Santa Cruz, said the number and brightness of the galaxies "is evidence for galaxies building up from small pieces, merging together as predicted by the hierarchical theory of galaxy formation."
The analysis was presented in August at a meeting of the International Astronomical Union and will be published in the Astrophysical Journal in November.