Hubble has spotted an ancient galaxy that shouldn't exist

mr. sin

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#1
http://io9.com/5927315/hubble-has-spotted-an-ancient-galaxy-that-shouldnt-exist


This galaxy is so large, so fully-formed, astronomers say it shouldn't exist at all. It's called a "grand-design" spiral galaxy, and unlike most galaxies of its kind, this one is old. Like, really, really old. According to a new study conducted by researchers using NASA's Hubble Telescope, it dates back roughly 10.7-billion years — and that makes it the most ancient spiral galaxy we've ever discovered.
"The vast majority of old galaxies look like train wrecks," said UCLA astrophysicist Alice Shapley in a press release. "Our first thought was, why is this one so different, and so beautiful?"

Shapley is co-author of the paper describing the discovery, which is published in the latest issue of Nature. She and her colleagues had been using Hubble to investigate some of our Universe's most distant cosmic entities, but the discovery of BX442 — which is what they've dubbed the newfound galaxy — came as a huge surprise.

"The fact that this galaxy exists is astounding," said University of Toronto's David Law, lead author of the study. "Current wisdom holds that such ‘grand-design' spiral galaxies simply didn't exist at such an early time in the history of the universe."

The hallmark of a grand design galaxy is its well-formed spiral arms, but getting into this conformation takes time. When astronomers look at most galaxies as they appeared billions and billions of years ago, they look clumpy and irregular. A 10.7-billion-year-old entity, BX442 came into existence a mere 3-billion years after the Big Bang. That's not a lot of time on a cosmic time scale, and yet BX442 looks surprisingly put together. So much so, in fact, that astronomers didn't believe it at first, chalking their unusual observation up to the accidental alignment of two separate galaxies. But further investigations, conducted at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, revealed BX442 to be the real thing.
So how does a galaxy that shouldn't exist come to be? The researchers think the answer may have something to do with a companion dwarf galaxy looming near BX442 (in the image up top, it's the separate circular cluster in the upper right). Simulations conducted by University of Arizona researcher Charlotte Christenson indicate that gravitation interactions between the two, which she says appear to be in the process of colliding, may have helped BX442 take shape.

The reason Stephen Hawking bet against the Higgs Boson is the same reason BX442 is the best kind of discovery; not only does this galaxy set a new benchmark by way of its cosmic seniority, it's also super weird — weirder than what anyone thought was possible. In science, these are the finds that help us rework our understanding of nature, the discoveries that force us to step back from what we thought we knew, re-assess our preconceived notions, and bring forth a newer, more fully formed view of our Universe.
 

Lord Zero

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#2
"The fact that this galaxy exists is astounding," said University of Toronto's David Law, lead author of the study.
No it isn't.
"Current wisdom holds that such ‘grand-design' spiral galaxies simply didn't exist at such an early time in the history of the universe."
"Current wisdom"? These scientists are fucking idiots. Seriously? The previous theory held that galaxies like this didn't exist just because? The universe is pure, chaotic randomness and these scientists are taken aback because one galaxy is really old and really organized?
 

mrbucket75

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#3
oh idk, seems like they are referring to finding an almost new classic car in the junkyard, no rust or dents. Also.... what if this galaxy has technology to make this happen?
 

JoeyDVDZ

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#4
oh idk, seems like they are referring to finding an almost new classic car in the junkyard, no rust or dents. Also.... what if this galaxy has technology to make this happen?
That's a great analogy, and sort of how I read it as well. It seems a galaxy that old should be a beat up POS, but here we are with a practically pristine spiral galaxy almost as old as the universe itself. Nice find; wonder if it's got habitable planets in it? Bet it does.... We're never gonna know though, unless about a billion years ago, someone from there sent us a radio signal.
 

Don the Radio Guy

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#5
ITT: Arrogant scientists thinking they know everything, then being bitch slapped by nature.

The galaxy's there. Therefore it's SUPPOSED to be there.
 

Mags

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#6
ITT: Arrogant scientists thinking they know everything, then being bitch slapped by nature.

The galaxy's there. Therefore it's SUPPOSED to be there.
I'm pretty sure they admitted they were "astounded". Where does it say they think they know everything? It's not like they're quoting a badly written 2000 year-old compilation book and saying it's the truth.
 

Don the Radio Guy

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I'm pretty sure they admitted they were "astounded". Where does it say they think they know everything? It's not like they're quoting a badly written 2000 year-old compilation book and saying it's the truth.
The "current wisdom" part. Lighten up, Francis.
 

Buster H

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#9
It's not about arrogance. It's about scientific method.

Every once in a while, you get something that blows all previously though theories and models out of the water.

It's how we, as a society gain knowledge. It's the same reason why hawking was hoping we wouldn't find the Higgs or find something different. It would make us go back and rethink everything we thought we knew.

It's an awesome discovery. Hopefully, they don't find some mundane reason for it.
 

Hudson

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#10
ITT: Arrogant scientists thinking they know everything, then being bitch slapped by nature.

The galaxy's there. Therefore it's SUPPOSED to be there.
I think "nature" as you are using it, exists on a planetary scale, not on a galactic scale.
Now if you were to say: ".....being bitch slapped by the nature of the universe." then you would be correct.
 

samurai

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#13
I think "nature" as you are using it, exists on a planetary scale, not on a galactic scale.
Now if you were to say: ".....being bitch slapped by the nature of the universe." then you would be correct.
 

Mags

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#15
It's not about arrogance. It's about scientific method.

Every once in a while, you get something that blows all previously though theories and models out of the water.

It's how we, as a society gain knowledge. It's the same reason why hawking was hoping we wouldn't find the Higgs or find something different. It would make us go back and rethink everything we thought we knew.

It's an awesome discovery. Hopefully, they don't find some mundane reason for it.
Don tends to see scientists as the evil enemies of the Jesusers bent on the besmirchment of Creationism.
 

lajikal

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#18
The "current wisdom" part. Lighten up, Francis.
How does 'current wisdom holds' translate into 'think we know everything'? The first quote is basically an admission that it's open to new knowledge and change in thinking.
 

Sunsetspawn

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Dec 5, 2005
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#19
That's a great analogy, and sort of how I read it as well. It seems a galaxy that old should be a beat up POS, but here we are with a practically pristine spiral galaxy almost as old as the universe itself. Nice find; wonder if it's got habitable planets in it? Bet it does.... We're never gonna know though, unless about a billion years ago, someone from there sent us a radio signal.
No no, that's not how it works.

The light we see from that galaxy is 10.7 billion years old, so right NOW that shit is really old. However, what we're seeing is a galaxy that cannot possible be older than 3 billion years because the light left it 10.7 billion years ago, which was only 3 billion years after the big bang(if current theories are correct), so it shouldn't have had time to look that good. Young galaxies look messy, and older galaxies look nice, like ours.

Oh shit I've gone cross-eyed
 

Don the Radio Guy

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#20
Don tends to see scientists as the evil enemies of the Jesusers bent on the besmirchment of Creationism.
Wrong.

I think this is a great discovery. I love when they find stuff that makes them rethink everything. A bunch of wet blankets that can't take a joke decided to get butthurt over it.
 

Buster H

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#21
Wrong.

I think this is a great discovery. I love when they find stuff that makes them rethink everything. A bunch of wet blankets that can't take a joke decided to get butthurt over it.
has nothing to do with that. Every time you post something of that nature, the thread turns into a bash don fest and fucks up the board. I'm getting tired of having to some in and put these fires out. Hell, kirk adds more content and less fuel for derailment than you do these days.
 

Party Rooster

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#22
Maybe that area of space was swallowed up by a gigantic black hole and then was reborn in more recent times. The circle of life...
 

Don the Radio Guy

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#23
has nothing to do with that. Every time you post something of that nature, the thread turns into a bash don fest and fucks up the board. I'm getting tired of having to some in and put these fires out. Hell, kirk adds more content and less fuel for derailment than you do these days.
I could post a thread with Kate Upton doing hardcore porn and the same thing would happen. You know this.
 

Buster H

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#25
Maybe that area of space was swallowed up by a gigantic black hole and then was reborn in more recent times. The circle of life...
I was just hoping that the universe ends up doubling back on itself and we are actually seeing something that's only a few billion light years the other way. Numbers don't add up though.