Ceers-2112 is a newly discovered galaxy that resembles the Milky Way. It has a spiral structure and in its center there is a belt of stars, called the bar, the team of scientists reports. The galaxy is extremely old – it may have formed shortly after the Big Bang and has been orbiting unchanged since then.
Alexander de la Vega from the University of California, together with a team of colleagues from the Centro de Astrobiología in Spain, discovered the most distant galaxy spiral with a bar, resembling the Milky Way. Scientists used the James Webb Space Telescope.
Until now, the scientific community was convinced that this type of galaxy could not be seen. The results of the new research were published last week in the scientific journal Nature.
– This galaxy, named Ceers-2112, formed shortly after the Big Bang. Its discovery shows that galaxies in the early Universe may be structured like the Milky Way. This is surprising because galaxies were much more chaotic in the early universe, de la Vega said.
It has remained unchanged for billions of years
The crossbar in Ceers-2112 is located in the middle. De la Vega explained that it is a simple structure made of stars. Also in the Milky Way is a belt of stars that can stretch up to 27 light-years long. The scientist also mentioned that bars other than spiral galaxies also occur, but they are very rare.
– Almost all bars are found in spiral galaxies. The bar in ceers-2112 suggests that galaxies were maturing and rearranging themselves much faster than previously thought, which means that some aspects of our theories of galaxy formation and evolution need to be revised, he added.
According to previously posed hypotheses, several billion years had to pass before the galaxies became organized enough to allow bars to form.
“The discovery of ceers-2112 shows that this could only happen in a fraction of that time, in a billion years or less,” he said.
Moreover, galactic bars only form in spiral galaxies that move in an orderly manner.
– In such galaxies, bars can form spontaneously due to the instability of the spiral structure or the gravitational effects of a neighboring galaxy. In the past, when the Universe was very young, galaxies were unstable and chaotic. It was believed that the bars could not be formed or maintained for very long, he added.
There may be more
The discovery of Ceers-2112 is a real breakthrough because it challenges two pillars of astronomy, scientists say. The first is that some galaxies in the early universe could quickly become stable enough for bars to appear.
– These models may need to adjust the amount of dark matter that forms galaxies in the early Universe, as there are suspicions that dark matter is responsible for the rate of bar formation. Second, the discovery shows that structures such as bars are detectable even in very old galaxies. This is extremely important because galaxies in the distant past were much smaller, making them difficult to find. The discovery of Ceers-2112 opens the way to finding even more objects of this type, the researcher concluded.
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