Late Stars Found Early On
A press release from the Spitzer Space Telescope team reports that the oldest, most distant galaxies ever seen already had well-developed stars. It claims that the light has taken 13 billion years to reach us.
“It seems that in a couple of cases these early galaxies are nearly as massive as galaxies we see around us today, which is a bit surprising when the theory is that galaxies start small and grow by colliding and merging with other galaxies,” said Dr. Mark Lacy (Spitzer Science Center).
“The real puzzle is that these galaxies seem to be already quite old when the Universe was only about 5 per cent of its current age,” commented Professor Richard Ellis of Caltech. “This means star formation must have started very early in the history of the Universe – earlier than previously believed.” (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
The release was echoed on News@Nature which claims these galaxies were born a mere 700 million years after the big bang. Whether small galaxies were also present at that epoch is hard to tell, because only the largest tend to be detectable. BBC News reported that a new instrument named DAZLE (Dark Age Redshift Lyman Explorer) on the Very large Telescope in Chile may soon be able to observe objects at redshift (z) 7.8, corresponding to 650 million years after the big bang in cosmological models. The technology may eventually reach back to z=8.8 or, in principle, even z=15, less than 300 million years after the big bang.
This is another sob session in a long lament. The farther back they look in time, and the farther out they look in space, the more mature structure they see – contrary to evolutionary expectations. For examples, see 03/10/2005, 01/08/2002, 03/03/2003, 12/16/2002, 07/08/2004, 01/23/2004 and 01/04/2004 entries and work back through the “cosmology” chain links. It’s uncanny how similar this looks to the Cambrian Explosion in biology: the abrupt appearance of structure without precursors. Observations from multiple telescopes, by multiple teams, seem to be converging on the conclusion that the universe was already well developed at an early age. If this trend keeps up, they might soon find mature galaxies on the fourth day.