The Universe was not always as we know it today. It was once very empty, with just a few galaxies illuminating it. During the early stages of the Universe’s existence, some of the emerging galaxies suddenly stopped making stars, and astronomers couldn’t understand why.
Using super powerful telescopes, a team of scientists looked far away back in time to find answers. According to CNET.com, they discovered that some of the galaxies from the Early Universe ran low on star fuel very early during their lifetime.
Looking 10-12 billion light-years into the Universe
The research team looked at an unfathomable distance using the Hubble Space Telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA): 10 to 12 billion light-years into the depths of the Cosmos. This also means that they were looking 10 to 12 billion years back in time to see what was going on during those early stages of the Universe. Considering that the Universe is 13.7 billion years old, as that’s the amount of time that passed since the Big Bang, the astronomers were looking at the way our Cosmos was “only” 3.7 billion to 1.7 billion years old.
Kate Whitaker, who’s a professor of astronomy from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and also a lead author of the study, declared as quoted by CNET.com:
The most massive galaxies in our universe formed incredibly early, just after the Big Bang happened,
But for some reason, they have shut down. They’re no longer forming new stars.
The researchers found out that the ancient galaxies either burned through the cold gas supply too fast or replenishment doesn’t come anymore.
It’s nice to see that the Hubble telescope still proves to have plenty to offer, considering that it will be replaced with the James Webb Space Telescope in a few months.
The new study was published in Nature.