The galaxy known as GN-108036 was recently discovered by a team of astronomers including two UC Riverside researchers. Professor Bahram Mobasher and graduate student Hooshang Nayyeri assisted in the research, which found that the galaxy is one of the brightest of its ancient neighbors, whose birth dates back within a billion years of the Big Bang.
Ground-based telescopes were some of the instruments used to locate the luminous galaxy 12.9 billion light-years away. Both the Spitzer and the Hubble telescopes were also involved in measuring its production rate of stars. The galaxy produces an upwards of 100 suns per year according to the UC Riverside Newsroom. Despite its brightness and high rate of activity, GN-108036 is still small compared to the Milky Way galaxy, which is approximately five times larger and 100 times more massive than GN-108036.
GN-108036 is unique because most galaxies that were created during the early formation of the universe usually lack such brightness. Since this galaxy is located in the extreme depths of the universe, it has taken 12.9 billion years for its light to reach our instruments. “The high rate of star formation found for GN-108036 implies that it was rapidly building up its mass some 750 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was only about 5 percent of its present age. This was therefore a likely ancestor of massive and evolved galaxies seen today,” stated Mobasher in an article by the UC Riverside Newsroom.
Researchers who contributed to the discovery came from a variety of educational institutions including the University of Arizona, University of Tokyo and UC Berkeley. The National Optical Astronomy Observatory and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) were also involved in the project.