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Astronauts Discover Cluster Of Galaxies

By Cara
Astronomers have identified what may be called the ancient city of 'modern' galaxies. These are a group of 60 galaxies, that are 10 billion years old and possibly the earliest cluster of galaxies ever detected.

However, it's not the size nor the age of the cluster that amazes the team of astronauts led by Dr. Casey Papovich.

Rather, it's the surprisingly modern appearance of galaxies that has baffled them. It is a huge red collection of galaxies, typical of only present-day galaxies. "It's like we dug an archaeological site in Rome and found pieces of modern Rome amongst the ruins," explained Dr. Papovich.

While its neighbouring galaxies appear vastly smaller and far fainter, Papovich says CLG J02182-05102, the newly discovered galaxy stands out as a densely populated bundle of ancient galaxies.

The enormous red galaxies at the centre contain almost 10 times as many stars as our Milky Way.

According to the astronauts, who were shocked and amazed said that such a phenomenon was very rare when the universe was 4 billion years old.

Exactly why these particular galaxies are fully formed that early is what Papovich and his team hope to uncover. But for now, studying CLG J02182-05102 could help them and other researchers better understand how galaxies form and cluster in general.

Story first published: Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 16:54 [IST]
Read more about: astronomy galaxy archaeology history