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The Earliest Galaxies Spin Just Like Our Milky Way, Defying Expectations

18 Jan 2018, 15:01 UTC
The Earliest Galaxies Spin Just Like Our Milky Way, Defying Expectations Amanda Smith / University of Cambridge.

How do galaxies like our Milky Way come to exist in our Universe? With billions upon billions of stars in a disk, the Milky Way spins about its center, rotating in a single plane just like a whirlpool. Most spiral galaxies do this once they get old enough, but it typically takes a few billion years for them to quiet down to that point. When they’re too young, they pull gas in quickly and have many supernovae going off, creating turbulent, chaotic motions. But in a surprising new study, Renske Smit and her team measured the internal motions of two galaxies farther away than ever before. Even though these are the youngest such galaxies ever measured, from when the Universe was just 6.5% its current age, they show that whirlpool-like motion, just like the older galaxies do.

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