Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

The Sciences

Galactic Nursery Found Close at Hand

By Jessa Forte NettingMarch 31, 2005 6:00 AM
Primordial gas clouds form galaxies in this NASA artist’s impression. | Courtesy of NASA/ESA/A. Schaller (for STScI)


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Until recently, studying newborn galaxies meant peering far into the distance and deep into the past, to the edge of the known universe. But with the 2003 launch of NASA’s orbiting ultraviolet telescope, Galaxy Evolution Explorer, or Galex, things have changed. Now astronomers can see objects that were previously invisible, especially new galaxies that blaze in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum.

Galex has quickly proved its worth. Astronomers recently found a nursery full of infant galaxies—but more important, all 36 are nearby. “It gives astronomers the chance to study the process of galaxy birth up close and personal,” says Tim Heckman of Johns Hopkins University.

The Milky Way, like most of the starry pinwheels in our neighborhood, is around 10 billion years old. But the new galaxies were all born only 100 million to a billion years ago. “These appear to be the newborn versions of typical ‘adult’ galaxies like our Milky Way,” Heckman says. “It’s almost like looking out a window and seeing a dinosaur walking by.”

Astronomers now plan to examine the newborns in detail with other instruments, such as the Hubble Space Telescope. This may help solve such mysteries as how gas clouds are triggered to form new stars and when the massive black hole at the center of every mature galaxy forms.

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In