Infrared image of the oldest known galaxy.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of Livermore National Lab
Scientists Find One of the First Galaxies
News story originally written on June 21, 1999
Scientists found an ancient galaxy that may be one of the first ever! The galaxy is hidden inside an enormous black hole. This black hole is estimated at 100 million times the mass of our Sun. The galaxy is approximately 11 billion years old. Recently, scientists revealed the expected age of the Universe to be 12 billion years old.
Because the galaxy is trapped within a black hole, scientists used radio signals to find it. When a black hole swallows something, it releases energy. Earth receives this energy in the form of radio waves. For over 30 years, scientists have received these waves. However, until now they did not know how to use them to create an image.
"For the first time we can now see how galaxies come together, and we can also see black holes that are being active at the same time," said Wil van Breugel, an astrophysicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "Once we have a good position of a radio source, then we take the biggest possible telescope and the most sensitive infrared detectors, and we'll get an image."
Scientists used the 400-inch telescopes at Keck Observatory in Hawaii to create the images. This technology wasn't available when the first signals were received years ago. Van Breugel hopes this discovery will lead to more time with the high-powered telescopes. He figures that by early July, another early galaxy will be found.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist
specimens, and educational games
You might also be interested in:
After eight long years, the Hubble Space Telescope Key Project Team finally revealed what they believe is the real Hubble Constant. The Hubble Constant is the speed which the Universe is expanding at....more
The introduction of telescopes to the study of astronomy opened up the universe, but it took some time for astronomers to realize how vast the universe could be. Telescopes revealed that our night sky...more
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more
During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more