May 10, 2014 | David F. Coppedge

Young Galaxy Mature for Its Age

Remote galaxy that should be young looks well-behaved and mature, “truly surprising” astronomers.

Using the Herschel Space Telescope, astronomers at Jet Propulsion Laboratory have identified a “young” galaxy that looks mature, according to a JPL press release.  Because of lookback time, distant galaxies appear how they looked when they were young.  Galaxy S0901 is 10 billion years old, according to distance estimates from gravitational lensing and spectral analysis, which would mean it was quite young when light started its journey toward us.  James Rhoads of Arizona State likened it to a 10-year old “acting in unexpectedly mature ways.”  Tech Times says the astronomers were “startled” by this galaxy.

The implications go beyond finding an outlier.  Rhoads said, “This is a truly surprising result that reminds us that we still don’t understand many details of the evolution of the universe.

National Geographic reported another “outlier” galaxy that doesn’t fit the cosmic evolution saga. Segue 1, a dwarf galaxy in the Local Group, has “failed to evolve normally” for all the time it must have been a sister to the Milky Way; i.e., it has low metallicity for a galaxy that should have seeded its stars with heavy elements during its long lifetime. “For some reason, this little guy has managed to survive for 13 billion years,” Ana Frebel (MIT) says. “It’s truly amazing.”

What doesn’t work in the real universe seems to work in computers.  Nature boasted of a new simulation that “reproduces both large- and smaller-scale features of a representative volume of the Universe from early in its history to the present day.”  New Scientist claimed, “baby model cosmology grows up to look like the real thing.”  Did it include all the galaxies that didn’t evolve?  The article did admit that there were failures in the model: “For instance, small galaxies in the simulation produced stars too early, so they appeared older than we observe them to be today.”  In addition, “some of the processes through which galaxies grow up such as star formation and black hole radiation, are still not very well understood – making it difficult to tell whether the simulation gets them right.”

In a piece called “What’s next for cosmology?” in Science Magazine, Joseph Silk (author of The Big Bang), with Jens Chluba, discussed what new measurements are needed in the wake of the highly-publicized BICEP2 observations of polarization modes consistent with inflation (3/17/14).  His optimism is tempered by realizations that “information reaching our telescopes is scrambled.”  Teasing out information with new instruments will be “immensely challenging,” and “Innovative design concepts are needed” to probe what may require “new physics” needed to “probe unexplored physics and help anchor the Big Bang theory.”

We’ve reported numerous instances of this “early maturity” pattern over the past decade: so many, that early maturity should be seen as the new pattern, and early “fidgeting” the exception.  Logically, it can be argued that the more details of the evolution of the universe that secular astronomers still don’t understand, the more likely they don’t understand much at all, including whether the universe evolved.  And if they can’t understand the objects within the cosmos, how can they claim to understand the cosmos itself, with all of its inflation weirdness and “new physics”?  Tell that to Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Incidentally, Evolution News & Views has been observing the Cosmos 2.0 series and issuing a good series of critical analyses on each episode.


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