Galaxies 11 Billion Years Ago Surprises Astronomers

Have you ever wondered how the universe looked like billions of years ago? Human beings have always wanted to know how the young universe was like. If only time travel were possible!

Hubble has managed to look way back in time and observe the true shape and size of different types of galaxies 11 billion years ago.

Scientists are surprised because what they have observed is not at all what they had expected to the universe to have been like.

Galaxies Today, 4 Billion Years Ago and 11 Billion Years Ago

Galaxies Today, 4 Billion Years Ago and 11 Billion Years Ago Image Source: ESA

What is The Hubble Sequence?

Astronomers use a system known as the Hubble sequence to classify galaxies. This system classifies galaxies according to their morphology and star forming activities.

There are spiral, elliptical and irregularly shaped galaxies. Today, the two main types of galaxies observed are spiral and elliptical with lenticular types falling in between.

The True Shape and Size of Galaxies 11 Billion Years Ago

To determine the morphology of the galaxies 11 billion years ago, Astronomers have used observations from Hubble’s CANDLE Survey to study the shapes, sizes and colors of distant galaxies covering the last 80% of the history of the universe.

They examined the anatomy of distant galaxies when the universe was very young and only galaxies existed.

In the observations, the galaxies look even more mature than was estimated by galaxy formation models that early in the history of the universe.

Apparently back then there were blue star forming galaxies with complex shapes and massive red galaxies no longer forming stars. Galaxies as large as the Milky Way were observed.

The First Comprehensive Study of Distant Galaxies

The Hubble observation is the first extensive study of the galaxies that existed far back in time.

Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) high resolution and strong sensitivity observed the infrared universe to study the galaxies in their visible rest form and compare them with galaxies today.

With these observations, astronomers can analyze a large number of these galaxies consistently and to details. This observation will help us learn more about galaxies in the early universe.

The Hubble Sequence Applied 11 Billion Years Ago

Astronomers knew that the Hubble sequence applied as far as 8 billion years ago. These observations confirm that galaxies this far back in time fit into the different classifications of the Hubble sequence. It shows that the sequence was accurate as far as 11 billion years ago.

Now that the Hubble Sequence is the basis of much of what we know about how galaxies form and evolve, it is great to know that it is consistent with how the galaxies were 11 billion years ago.