The universe is full of weird ancient ‘monsters’ resembling ‘cosmic yetis’, scientists warn

Metro Technology 3 weeks ago
A view of one of the bizarre monster galaxies which formed during our universe's infancy
A view of one of the bizarre monster galaxies which formed during our universe’s infancy

Sometimes the universe is so awe-inspiring that tiny little words can’t do it justice.

So you might understand why the University of Arizona has decided to compare newly discovered ‘monsters’ to ‘cosmic yetis’.

The uni’s astronomers have just published a study which effectively peers back in time to examine the birth of some of the biggest galaxies in the universe.

These ‘monster galaxies’ have been likened to yetis because they were regarded as little more than folklore by the scientific community, with no evidence of their existence previously discovered.

Now stargazers have managed to snap an image of one of these ‘beasts’ for the first time.

University of Arizona astronomer Christina Williams, lead author of the study, noticed a faint blob of light whilst examining data gathered by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, or ALMA, a collection of 66 radio telescopes high in the Chilean mountains.

This weird glow ‘seemed to be coming out of nowhere, like a ghostly footstep in a vast dark wilderness’.

‘It was very mysterious because the light seemed not to be linked to any known galaxy at all,” said Williams.

‘When I saw this galaxy was invisible at any other wavelength, I got really excited because it meant that it was probably really far away and hidden by clouds of dust.’

The light took 12.5 billion years to reach Earth, giving astronomers a look at the universe in its infancy.

It’s believed the glow is caused by dust particles heated inside a young galaxy. This dust covers the stars’ light meaning the galaxies are hard or even impossible to see.

Study co-author Ivo Labbé, of the Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia, said: ‘We figured out that the galaxy is actually a massive monster galaxy with as many stars as our Milky Way, but brimming with activity, forming new stars at 100 times the rate of our own galaxy.’

The yetis could help to solve a long-standing mystery about galaxies which grew extremely quickly in the universe’s earliest days.

‘Recent studies found that some of the biggest galaxies in the young universe grew up and came of age extremely quickly, a result that is not understood theoretically,’ Arizona University wrote in a statement.

‘Massive mature galaxies are seen when the universe was only a cosmic toddler at 10% of its current age. Even more puzzling is that these mature galaxies appear to come out of nowhere: astronomers never seem to catch them while they are forming.

‘Smaller galaxies have been seen in the early universe with the Hubble Space Telescope, but such creatures are not growing fast enough to solve the puzzle. Other monster galaxies have also been previously reported, but those sightings have been far too rare for a satisfying explanation.’

Now the yeti has been found, it’s thought many more might be lurking out there.

‘Our hidden monster galaxy has precisely the right ingredients to be that missing link because they are probably a lot more common,’ Williams added.


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