Astronomers have modeled one of the largest 3D maps, revealing 4,000 infant galaxies. Hence, it will help us learn about the earliest moments of the cosmos.

Astronomers from Lancaster University have created the map. It will help us understand galactic evolution, early stellar trends, and the expansion of the cosmos.

So, the team of researchers has used a large amount of observational data. Thus, mapping out what the universe may have looked like between 11 and 13 billion years ago. A time when the universe was only 7 to 20 percent its current age.

“We used large amounts of data … to literally slice the universe in cosmic time and time-travel to the distant past with 16 well-defined cosmic-time destinations,” said Sergio Santos, a team researcher at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, in a recent statement about the findings.

They took the data from the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii and the Isaac Newton Telescope in the Canary Islands.

The Wavelength

The research team, led by David Sobral, used special filters to look for a particular wavelength of light called Lyman alpha radiation.

To pinpoint these ages, researchers had to look at the universal expansion. So, they use the expansion of the universe to determine from which epoch, or from how long ago, light originates. As the universe expands, the light traveling from distant objects gets stretched on its journey to Earth. This causes light from these galaxies to appear redder than it otherwise would. Scientists call this phenomenon a redshift. So now researchers can use filters to measure particular wavelengths of light and then deduce how far back in time the light is coming from.

“The bulk of the distant galaxies we found are only about 3,000 light-years across in size, while our Milky Way is about 30 times larger,” Ana Paulino-Afonso, a Ph.d. student at the university said in a statement. “Their compactness likely explains many of their exciting physical properties that were common in the early universe.”

The Observation

To create the 3-D map, astronomers observed an area of the sky in the direction of the constellation Sextans. To do this, they equipped the two telescopes with medium and narrowband camera filters. This allowed them to hone in on various epochs.

“We used large amounts of data taken with 16 special filters on wide-field cameras and processed them here in Lancaster to literally slice the Universe in cosmic time and time-travel to the distant past with 16 well-defined cosmic time destinations,” said researcher Dr. Santos.

“Some of these galaxies should have evolved to become like our own, and thus we are seeing what our galaxy may have looked like 11 to 13 billion years ago,” researcher Ana Paulino-Afonso said in the statement.

Researchers presented the research at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science on April 4.

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Thumbnail image: ESO’s VISTA survey telescope has spied a horde of previously hidden massive galaxies that existed when the Universe was in its infancy. The newly discovered massive galaxies are marked on this image of the UltraVISTA field. Credit: ESO/UltraVISTA team. Acknowledgment: TERAPIX/CNRS/INSU/CASU