How do you build a galaxy? That's a question astronomers continue to ask themselves as they formulate theories on how these gargantuan systems, full of dust, gas and stars, come together. In seeking answers, they turn their telescopes to the sky and look for distant galaxies that could help unravel the mystery.
In a new study, published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, an international team of astronomers detected light from an ancient, huge galactic disk lurking in a far corner of the universe. The light took some 12.5 billion years to reach us on Earth, which means the disk formed around 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang -- in the earliest days of the universe.
Using one of the world's most powerful telescopes, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimetre Array, the team found the galaxy when it was studying bright light from a distant, mammoth black hole known as a quasar. Some of the light was absorbed by the galaxy on its way to Earth, revealing it hiding in the dark of space. Studying the galaxy with ALMA and using data from Hubble, the team were able to more clearly resolve some of its features.
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