Researchers Discover Galaxies Hiding in Plain sight

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Tempo.co

Editor

Laila Afifa

23 September 2021 20:39 WIB

TEMPO.CO, Sydney - An international team of researchers have discovered two ancient galaxies previously hidden by cosmic dust, which could provide a more complete picture of the universe.

The study, published in the Nature journal on Wednesday, involved a team of researchers, including two astronomers from Australia's Swinburne University of Technology.

The team revealed new galaxies that were previously invisible from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope located in the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile.

The total of 40 distant galaxies studied through the telescope were estimated to be 13 billion years old, meaning that they had sprung into existence in the first 5 percent of the universe's nearly 14-billion-year history.

Co-author, Swinburne's Professor Ivo Labbé told Xinhua on Thursday that the telescope has provided a new way to "look into the past" at galaxies billions of light years away.

"It turns out this telescope is perfect to discover these super hidden galaxies, but we weren't looking for them because we didn't know they were there,"

The ALMA telescope was able to see past the clouds of cosmic dust, that build up as stars age, due to its ability to detect millimeter wavelengths, which can image galaxies based on the gas that surrounds them.

Another co-author of the study, Swinburne's Dr. Themiya Nanayakkara said being able to observe these ancient galaxies will open up a great space for new discoveries.

"Studying these early times, when the Universe was very young and galaxies had just started to form stars, is one of the ultimate frontiers in astronomy."

"It is essential for our understanding of the formation of all stars and galaxies and ultimately tells the story of our own origins," said Nanayakkara.

Now, the Australian researchers are hoping to uncover what would be missing pieces in the cosmic jigsaw.

Labbé said the James Webb Space Telescope, to be launched by NASA in December of 2021, would help fill in these pieces.

"James Webb is the 800-pound gorilla. This is what the astronomical community has been waiting for."

Read: Scientists Spot a Planet as It Is Being Formed

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