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Massive Ancient Galaxy Stirs Mystery: Is the Universe Older than We Think?

10033_elliptical_galaxy_side Could the Universe be much older than we think? Early on its life it appears that our Universe was a place of puzzling extremes and seeming contradictions. That’s the conclusion scientists are drawing from new infrared observations of a very distant, unusually bright and massive elliptical galaxy.

This galaxy [in the white square above] was spotted 10 billion light years away, and gives us a glimpse of what the Universe looked like when it was only about one-quarter of its current age.

Measurements show that the galaxy is as large and equally dense as elliptical galaxies that can be found much closer to us. Coupled with recent observations by a different research team - which found a very compact and extremely dense elliptical galaxy in the early Universe - the findings deepen the puzzle over how ‘fully grown’ galaxies can exist alongside seemingly ‘immature’ compact galaxies in the young Universe.

‘What our observations show is that alongside these compact galaxies were other ellipticals that were anything up to 100 times less dense and between two and five times larger - essentially ‘fully grown’ - and much more like the ellipticals we see in the local Universe around us,’ explains Michele Cappellari of Oxford University’s Department of Physics, an author of a report of the research in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

‘The mystery is how these two different extremes, ‘grown up’ and seemingly ‘immature’ ellipticals, co-existed so early on in the evolution of the Universe.’

Elliptical galaxies, which are regular in shape, can be over ten times as massive as spiral galaxies such as our own Milky Way and contain stars which formed over 10 billion years ago. One way of checking the density of such galaxies is to use the infrared spectrum they emit to measure the spread of the velocities of their stars, which has to balance the pull of gravity.

Measurements of a distant compact elliptical galaxy have shown that its stars were dispersing at a velocity of about 500 km per second, consistent with its size but unknown in local galaxies.

The new study, using the 8.3-m Japanese Subaru telescope in Hawaii, found a ‘fully grown’ elliptical with stars dispersing at a velocity of lower than 300 km per second, much more like similar galaxies close to us.

‘Our next step is to use the Subaru telescope to find the relative proportion of these two extremes, fully grown and compact ellipticals, and see how they fit in with the timeline of the evolution of the young Universe,’ Michele tells us. ‘Hopefully this will give us new insights into solving this cosmic puzzle.’

In earlier surveys, the Advanced camera for Survey (ACS) and the Infrared Camera for Multi-object Spectrometer (NICMOS), the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) have revealed the presence of estimated 10,000 fully formed galaxies in a patch of sky in the constellation, Formax - a region just below the constellation, Orion. According to the NASA, these fully formed galaxies emerged just 700 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was barely 5% of its current age.

A1835_chandra Also, using ISAAC near- infrared instrument aboard ESO's Very Large Telescope(VLT), and the phenomenon of gravitational lensing, a team of French and Swiss astronomers using Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory, have identified an extremely faint galaxy, Abell 1835 (image left).

According to interpretations, Abell 1835 must have formed just 460 million years after the universe was born, during the "Dark Age" when the first stars and galaxies were supposedly being born More recently, fully formed galaxies were discovered which are at a greater distance, over 13.1 billion light years (American Astronomical Society 2010), and which may have already been billions of years in age, over 13 billion years ago .

There are fully formed distant galaxies that must have already been billions of years old over 13 billion years ago; which would make them older than the Big Bang. Then there is the problem of the oldest globular clusters so far discovered, whose ages are in excess of 16 billion years. The Milky Way and other galaxies are also so old that they must have formed before the so called "Dark Ages" and thus almost immediately after the Big Bang, which is not consistent with theory.

Using the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) aboard NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have detected about a dozen very red galaxies at a distance of 10 to12 billion light years from Earth (cfa Harvard 2005). According to the Big Bang model, these galaxies existed when the universe was only about 1/5 of its present age of 13.75 billion years. The unpredicted existence of "red and dead" galaxies so early in the universe challenges Big Bang theories relating to galaxy formation (cfa Harvard 2005). Analysis show that galaxies exhibit a large range of properties. Young galaxies with and without lots of dust, and old galaxies with and without dust. There is as much variety in the so called "early universe" as we see around "today" in galaxies closer to Earth.

Moreover, Spitzer Space Telescope, which is sensitive to the light from older and redder stars, has also revealed evidence for mature stars in less massive galaxies at similar distances (Spitzer 2005), when the Universe was supposedly less than one billion years old.

Casey Kazan



one gets the feeling that behind the scenes physicists are frantically cobbling together a new Theory on the origins of the universe and planning on announcing that the so called Big Bang is a load of rubbish.
my personal theory is that the universe exists in little glass brooch hanging around the neck of a cat living in a backroom of a hardware store in Queens.

The Galaxy is in Orion's Belt?

i think these probably came from another universe... like in a "dark flow" from somewhere beyond

perhaps the big bang was a local big bang... and there were others resulting in these other galaxies. Overlapping universes...

Analysis show that galaxies exhibit a large range of properties. Young galaxies with and without lots of dust, and old galaxies with and without dust. There is as much variety in the so called "early universe" as we see around "today" in galaxies closer to Earth.

If Galaxy is 100000 light years wide, then the image of the Galaxy we see is a distorted one.
Because ray from one end of that "galaxy" that reaches US at different times! So what we see is not an actual "image" in the past of the Galaxy, it's a distorted one!!

This discovery simply shows us that these galaxies, some fully formed, some not, are merely galaxies in that are 13 billion light years away in their part of an infinite universe (or a universe that's larger by perhaps hundreds of billions of years). I think that as telescopes get better, they're going to find galaxies (fully formed, full of metals that take billions of years to fuse inside of supernovas) further and further away. Either cosmologists will suggest that "inflation and rapid growth" happened in a trillionth of a second or they'll have to concede that these images come from galaxies that formed long, long ago and that there was no Big Bang.

You shouldn't plagiarize.

The universe is so expansive there might have been multiple Big Bangs. I base that on an imagination of popcorn popping into existence at different times on an unimaginable scale of time. Therefore time is infinite as space itself. So, space/time is in a state of equilibrium.

Dr Cook: It can hardly be considered plagurization when the very link you posted was included in the sources at the end of this post.

Kirksan, I didn't post that like to the UK article. That was by somebody named "Dave". Actually, I thought "Dave" was accusing me of plagiarizing until I visited that link.

the universe is a 4-d klein bottle.

More like a 2l Vodka bottle

Age measures are meaningless without expliciting the technique and physical model used for interpretation.
The "naive" hubble's law doesn't work in every case. See:

Yes, I think you mistakenly thought the posting above was by Dr. Cook, but it was really someone named Dave.

That's because the dividing lines in the comment section of this website are confusing and done in the opposite fashion of most other websites (at least I always thought they were confusing).

The way the lines are placed, it makes it look like the person above is the one posting the comment below.

Dr Cook and Velocity.Wave: You're both right of-course. My comment was directed towards Dave. The layout of the comments are indeed confusing.

After reading Casey's blog for some time now it appears he frequently takes snippets from others to create his posts. There's nothing wrong with that as long as he credits the original authors, which he does. That was the point of my original comment, directed towards Dave.

The dividing line between comment and writer's name IS confusing and it is one feature of The Daily Galaxy that needs to be upgraded. They also need to cut down on the number of links you need to do to get to a particular article (click on the 'front page', then click on the 'same' link on the next page). One less click and you're at the site; that's all! And they need to quit 'doubling-up' on the articles from day to day.

This is a very good article, I just accidentally adidas shoes there to see this, thank you, the next to go find the cheap pump and wooden crafts ' news .

looks not bad
get something different here

I’m really not sure what happened this weekend. My 20 month old started school on Monday putting an end to a rather hectic life my husband and I were living with our work schedule to keep him at home full time with us and a lot of stressful situations came to a close in my life.

There is one thing to consider in measuring time and that is the rate of flow of time itself which is a function of gravity potential. As a clock is raised to a higher gravity potential the clock speeds up compared to a clock that is not raised to a higher potential – i.e. the Pound-Rebka experiment in agreement with GR. As the universe expands what happens? Mass moves farther apart which causes a higher gravity potential with time. So if the universe was more compact in the past the clocks must have ran more slowly than today. Measuring the age of the universe with today’s clocks projects backwards to 13.8 billion years at today’s rate of time flow. However if you were to make that measurement a billion years ago the age of the universe might have been 13.3 billion years. So the universe being 13.8 billion years old using today’s clocks means the actual age is likely to be much longer since clocks ran more slowly in the past. This concept has one other feature. Our ever faster rate of time flow now would make objects appear to red shift even more than a linear projection, i.e. the acceleration that we now observe. So you see that taking a variable rate of time flow into account in accordance with GR will predict the acceleration we now observe. Why has no scientist done this analysis and written a paper on what seems obvious to me.

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