Patt Morrison for December 23, 2011

Astronomers discover stars multiplying at shockingly high rate

Hubble Reveals Oldest Seen galaxies

NASA/Getty Images

A view of nearly 10,000 galaxies are seen in a Hubble Telescope composite photograph. The Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) photograph is a composite of a million one-second exposures and reveals galaxies from the time shortly after the big bang.

It is difficult to imagine a galaxy in which the equivalent of about 100 of our suns per year are materializing, but that is exactly what astronomers have discovered in a blob-shaped galaxy called GN-108036.

Stars are being created in this galaxy more than three times the rate than in our own Milky Way, which consequently renders GN-108036 the brightest extremely distant galaxy found to date. Researchers, including University of California, Riverside’s, Bahram Mobasher and his graduate student Hooshang Nayyeri, made the discovery using NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes. Because light from the distant galaxy has taken 12.9 billion years to reach us, scientists say that it lies near the beginning of time itself, which is thought to have originated about 13.7 billion years ago when the “Big Bang” occurred. This development indicates that events now being observed in this galaxy happened when the universe was only about five percent of its current age and may exemplify how most galaxies originally evolved.

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What implications might this amazing discovery have for future space exploration?

Guest:

Bahram Mobasher, professor of physics and astronomy, University of California, Riverside


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