With the help of the Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT), a team of scientists from the University of Massachusetts and the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics, and Electronics in Mexico managed to spot one of the oldest objects present in the universe. The object in question is a huge galaxy estimated to be about 12.8 billion years old, making it almost as old as the Big Bang.
The galaxy is one of the oldest objects in the universe
The galaxy is the second oldest and most distant object in the universe, so this was the first to come into being soon after the Big Bang. Our galaxy is 12.8 billion years old, while the Big Bang’s age is 13.7 billion years. Back then, the universe didn’t have the necessary conditions for other objects to form. In fact, for the first 400 million years of its existence, it was a bit too hot for other galaxies to exist.
Therefore, scientists think the first galaxies and black holes must have formed during the second half of the first billion of the universe’s existence. The galaxy is the first object of such an age to be discovered, and researchers think it might even be the oldest object in the universe.
Researchers needed an advanced telescope to perform all the calculations
The first equipment to spot the galaxy was the Herschel Space Telescope. However, the images it returned had quite a low quality, and it was hard to make sure the calculations it made were 100 percent accurate. Therefore, the researchers switched to the LMT.
To tell how distant a space object is, researchers use the speed at which the universe expands as a reference point. This reference point is known as redshift and, the larger the redshift, the more distant the object is. By measuring each molecule in this redshift, and collecting the light emitted by the galaxy, researchers could calculate its position and age. These measurements cannot be performed with any telescope, so an advanced equipment, just like LMT, was necessary.