Astronomers have found a massive galaxy, dating from the early universe, lurking in cosmic dust clouds -- an advance that may open the doors for discovering a new galaxy population type.
The researchers, including those from the University of Massachusetts in the US, said that the discovery provides new insights into the first growing steps of some of the biggest galaxies in the universe.
"We figured out that the galaxy is actually a massive monster galaxy with as many stars as our Milky Way but brimming with activity, forming new stars at 100 times the rate of our own galaxy," said study co-author Ivo Labb from Swinburne University of Technology, Australia. As part of the study, published in the Astrophysical Journal, the researchers used the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, or ALMA -- a collection of 66 radio telescopes located in the high mountains of Chile.
Galaxy hidden by clouds of dust The lead author of the study, Christina Williams, said that she noted a faint blob of light initially.
"It was very mysterious but the light seemed not to be linked to any known galaxy at all. When I saw this galaxy was invisible at any other wavelength, I got really excited, because it meant that it was probably really far away and hidden by clouds of dust," she said.