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Distant young galaxy cluster 'discovered'
Posted On: Mar 09, 2012
An artist's impression of the Milky Way galaxy. A NASA photo.
Planetary scientists claim to have discovered a distant young galaxy cluster located 10.5 billion light years away from Milky Way.
Galaxy clusters are the "urban centres" of the universe and may contain thousands of galaxies.
An international team says that it identified the new galaxy cluster, which is made up of a dense concentration of 30 galaxies that is the seed for a much bigger "city", using the Magellan 6.5-metre telescope in Chile. The galaxy cluster is located in a region near the star constellation Leo.
"Our galaxy cluster is observed when the universe was only three billion years old. This means it is still young and should continue to grow into an extremely dense structure containing many more galaxies," said Lee Spitler at Swinburne University of Technology, who led the team.
The discovery of this system at such an early stage of the universe will help astronomers understand how galaxies are influenced by their environment, the planetary scientists said in a university release.
Team member Prof Kim-Vy Tran of Texas A&M University said: "This finding is much like discovering an ancient city that existed earlier than any other known city.
"In the same way that it's important for humans to search for the oldest known cities to understand civilisations today, it's important to search for the cosmological equivalent of the most ancient cities to understand why galaxies like our Milky Way look the way they do," Tran added.
The findings are to be published in an upcoming edition of the 'Astrophysical Journal Letters'.
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