The Suspiciously Shaped Wofle Disk Galaxy

in hive-196387 •  4 days ago  (edited)

The radiation of a faraway quasar gave us the incredible galaxy DLA0817g called “Wolfe Disk” which is about 12.5 billion light-years from us. Only very few people would expect to see a galaxy made up from a cold disk of rotating matter in such a young Universe.

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Image by Lumina Obscura from Pixabay

About 13.8 billion years the Universe was born. Most likely it was born in the singularity of the Big Bang. If there was anyone to watch it then it must have been one hell of a show. But, from what we understand the Universe was quite different. The stars and galaxies appeared much later. But we still do not know when and how exactly it happened. A recently discovered galaxy that has a cool nickname but is weird could help us understand this mystery.

The Oldest Shaped Galaxy

The galaxy in question is the DLA0817g galaxy with the nickname of Wolfe Disk. It is made by a rotating cold disk full of cosmic gas with a total mass of roughly 72 billion Suns. The powerful radiotelescope array ALMA in Chile discovered it how it looked 12.5 billion years ago – when our Universe was just about a billion years old.

It may not seem like it, but this is an important observation. Wolfe Disk is the oldest known galaxy with a rotating disk. Its existence seriously changes our ideas about the creation and evolution of the early Universe. The thing is that the galaxies in the young Universe we have seen so far looked different. Those appeared like shape-less hot blobs of stars that fly inside the shape-less galaxies in all directions.

You could sort of say that young galaxies look like if trains crashed into each other. And the fact is, that they often did crash into each other. This is the way they gained mass. This is why experts thought that it must have taken a long time for the galaxies to cool down and gain the shape of a rotating disk similar to our own Milky Way. They estimated 4 – 6 billion years. But the Wolfe Disk galaxy had a different fate.

Simulations on supercomputers proved galaxies could also form in different ways. These simulations showed galaxies could form by slowly gathering material in the gigantic network of matter that filled the young Universe. The discovery of the Wolfe Disk confirmed these simulations.

The discovery itself was quite interesting as well. The researchers used radiation from a very far away quasar that passed through an area rich in hydrogen on its journey towards Earth. And we found out that the hydrogen area was the Wolfe Disk galaxy. Now the scientists plan to look for more galaxies in the very young Universe.


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