The Universe has been around for quite a while. Scientists measure its age judging by how much time has gone by since the Big Bang. They cannot find out for sure, for the moment, what existed before that major event. Therefore, the age of our Universe is reckoned to be somewhere at 13.7 billion years old. That’s a long time, although some people would want to live a lot longer.
Finding a star that’s almost as old as the Universe itself is not exactly something new for astronomers. But finding a protocluster of stars that’s so old is indeed remarkable.
Setting the cosmic stage for the G237 protocluster
The G237 protocluster is the one in question, it’s the home of over 60 galaxies, and it’s located 11 billion light-years away, according to LiveScience.com. Doing just a little math and considering the speed of light, we can find out that the protocluster is 11 billion years old. That’s “just” 2.7 billion years younger than the Universe itself.
This is not the first time when astronomers have spoken about the G237 protocluster. They’ve done it before at the beginning of the year, but the cosmic object’s existence was now confirmed by an international team of researchers. The first observations of the protocluster were made thanks to the Planck telescope of the European Space Agency (ESA).
Brenda Frye, co-author of the study and also an associate professor of astronomy from the University of Arizona, reveals for us a shocking perspective about the protocluster:
You can think of galaxy protoclusters such as G237 as a galaxy shipyard in which massive galaxies are being assembled, only this structure existed at a time when the universe was 3 billion years old.
The team of astronomers who confirmed the existence of the G237 protocluster published their findings in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.