Washington, May 13 (ANI): A team of astronomers has discovered a young cluster, born just 2.8 billion years after the Big Bang, that appears very similar to the much older present-day galaxy clusters.
"We were looking for clusters of galaxies when the Universe was still very young," says Carnegie's Ivelina Momcheva, who did the spectroscopic analysis that led to the discovery of the cluster.
"One might think that the clusters we find would look young as well. However, in this cluster we found a number of surprisingly ancient-looking galaxies. This cluster resembles modern-day clusters, which are nearly 10 billion years older."
"It is like we dug an archaeological site in Rome and found pieces of modern Rome in amongst the ruins," adds lead author Casey Papovich of Texas A and M University.
The cluster is called CLG J02182-05102 and contains approximately 60 galaxies, including several enormous red galaxies at its centre holding 10 times as many stars as the Milky Way.
Unable to find using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope if its galaxies are indeed gravitationally bound, the team used an advanced spectrograph.
Post analysis, they found that the cluster now looks the way it looked 9.6 billion years ago and since then, has moved away as the universe expanded. Today, it stands at a distance of 15 billion light years.
The new discovery will help researchers understand how galaxies evolve and form clusters. CLG J02182-05102's large red galaxies are unexpected because most galaxies at that time were still rapidly forming stars, and, as a result, appear smaller and their emitted light bluer.
"We are witnessing the youth of truly massive cluster of galaxies," says Momcheva. "ClG J02182-05102 will continue growing, accreting more galaxies and slowly aging. By the present day it has probably grown to be a large metropolis of a cluster like our neighbour, the Coma cluster." (ANI)