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Scientists in 'uncharted cosmic history' after discovering 'oldest ever' galaxy formed 250 million years after Big Bang

Mirror logo Mirror 17/05/2018 John von Radowitz
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A galaxy that was formed 250 million years after the Big Bang has been discovered by scientists - making it the oldest ever encountered.

Galaxy MACS1149-JD1, originating 13.28bn light years from Earth, was discovered by a team of British-led scientists.

It is hoped their findings may shed light on the mysterious origins of the early universe.

a city at night: Credits: Friends of NASA © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Friends of NASA

The faint light emitted from the stars began its journey to Earth just 500 million years after the beginning of the universe, popularly known as the 'Big Bang.'

Oxygen detected from the formation indicates that they may have already completed their life cycle.

Dr Nicolas Laporte, from University College London, who co-led the team, said: "This is an exciting discovery as this galaxy is seen at a time when the Universe was only 500 million years old and yet it already has a population of mature stars.

a star filled sky: Credits: AFP © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: AFP

"We are therefore able to use this galaxy to probe into an earlier, completely uncharted, period of cosmic history."

The galaxy was studied using the Atacama Large Millimetre/Submillimetre Array (Alma), a powerful radio telescope, and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT). Both facilities are located in Chile's Atacama desert.

Mystery surrounds the time the first galaxies emerged from total darkness, an epoch known as the "cosmic dawn".

Credits: Getty Images © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty Images

Co-author Professor Richard Ellis, also from UCL, said: "Determining when cosmic dawn occurred is akin to the Holy Grail of cosmology and galaxy formation.

"With MACS1149-JD1, we have managed to probe history beyond the limits of when we can actually detect galaxies with current facilities.

"There is renewed optimism we are getting closer and closer to witnessing directly the birth of starlight.

Slideshow: Spectacular photos from space (Photo Services) 

"Since we re all made of processed stellar material, this is really finding our own origins."

The findings were published in the latest issue of Nature journal.

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