Oldest Spiral Galaxy in Universe Discovered
Illustration: An artist’s rendering of galaxy BX442, which is 10.7 billion light-years from Earth, and its companion dwarf galaxy. Credit: Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics/Joe Bergeron
Astronomers have discovered the universe’s most ancient spiral galaxy yet, a cosmic structure that dates back roughly 10.7 billion years, a new study reveals.
The galactic find, discovered by researchers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, comes as something of a surprise. Other galaxies from such early epochs are clumpy and irregular, not strikingly symmetrical like the newfound spiral, which broadly resembles our own Milky Way.
“The fact that this galaxy exists is astounding,” study lead author David Law, of the University of Toronto, said in a statement. “Current wisdom holds that such ‘grand-design’ spiral galaxies simply didn’t exist at such an early time in the history of the universe.”