“Its properties are astonishingly similar to our own galaxy, despite being only 1.5 billion years old,” said the paper’s co-author J. Xavier Prochaska, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, in the statement.
The researchers note that most huge disk galaxies, like our own Milky Way, reach their large mass relatively late in the 13.8-billion-year history of the universe.
BLACK HOLE, 1,000 LIGHT-YEARS FROM EARTH, DISCOVERED
“While previous studies hinted at the existence of these early rotating gas-rich disk galaxies, thanks to ALMA we now have unambiguous evidence that they occur as early as 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang,” said lead author Marcel Neeleman of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) were also used to study the Wolfe Disk.
The galaxy was first discovered in 2017 by ALMA when it examined the light from a more distant quasar, or highly active supermassive black hole. «The light from the quasar was absorbed as it passed through a massive reservoir of hydrogen gas surrounding the galaxy, which is how it revealed itself,» the researchers explained, in the statement. The latest observations revealed the Wolfe Disk’s rotation.
77-YEAR-OLD AMATEUR ASTRONOMER HELPS MAKE STUNNING DISCOVERY
In a separate project, scientists recently discovered the brightest ever supernova.