Washington, March 22 (ANI): Reports indicate that astronomers have combined a natural gravitational lens and a sophisticated telescope array to get the sharpest view ever of "star factories" in a galaxy over 10 billion light-years from Earth.
They found that the distant galaxy, known as SMM J2135-0102, is making new stars 250 times faster than our Galaxy, the Milky Way.
They also pinpointed four discrete star-forming regions within the galaxy, each over 100 times brighter than locations (like the Orion Nebula) where stars form in our Galaxy.
This is the first time that astronomers have been able to study properties of individual star-forming regions within a galaxy so far from Earth.
"To a layperson, our images appear fuzzy, but to us, they show the exquisite detail of a Faberge egg," said Steven Longmore of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).
Due to the time it takes light to travel to us, we see the galaxy as it existed just 3 billion years after the Big Bang.
It was Milky Way-sized at the time.
If we could see it today, 10 billion years later, it would have grown into a giant elliptical galaxy much more massive than our own.
"This galaxy is like a teenager going through a growth spurt," said Mark Swinbank of Durham University.
"If you could see it today as an 'adult', you'd find the galactic equivalent of Yao Ming the basketball player," he added.
The Submillimeter Array (SMA) data revealed four extremely bright star-forming regions. The large luminosities, 100 times greater than typical for nearby galaxies, imply a very high rate of star formation.
"We don't fully understand why the stars are forming so rapidly, but our result suggests that stars formed much more efficiently in the early universe than they do today," said Swinbank. (ANI)