Scientists accidentally discovered a galaxy, as it existed only 1 billion years after the Big Bang. It was already forming hundreds of stars each year.
Scientists regarded these galaxies as the material of fairy tales and folklore, as only the footprints of such galaxies exist. But now, a study published in the Astrophysical Journal says these galaxies exist and, in fact, astronomer Christina Williams of the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona has located one.
The galaxy is 12.5 billion light years from Earth, leading scientists to believe it could unravel mysteries related to the origins of the universe. Using the famed Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), a series of telescopes along the highlands of Chile's Atacama Desert, Williams spotted this mysterious galaxy.
But how was the galaxy hidden for so long? Astronomers suspect that stars forming within a nearby younger galaxy have produced a hot cloud of dust that has obscured the ancient star nursery.
"When I saw that this galaxy was invisible at any other wavelength, I was very excited because it meant it was probably far away and hidden by clouds of dust," Williams said in a statement.
Odds are galaxies like this one and are more common than previously thought. "Observations for the current study were made in a small part of the sky, less than 1% of the full moon disk," said Williams.