Monday, 13 April 2009

Early Galaxies Grew Too Fast

M104 Sombrero galaxy. Image courtesy of NASA.

Joel Kontinen

The Big Bang has a new problem: galaxies grow too fast. Researchers using the Subaru telescope in Hawaii to examine five distant galaxy clusters were surprised to discover that they did not correspond to their expectations of galaxy formation.

Recently, Nature published a letter by Chris Collins of Liverpool John Moores University and colleagues on the rapid growth of galaxies.

The galaxies, estimated to be five billion years old, had a mass that roughly equals that of the largest galaxies in the present universe.

This is not the first time the big bang is in trouble. Alan Guth suggested a theory of cosmic inflation to explain why the universe has a surprisingly homogenous temperature. The very existence of spiral galaxies is a mystery. They should not be able to keep their shape for billions of years.

There are planets and other objects in our solar system that do not fit in well with the idea of billions of years, either, for instance, short term comets, the weakening of Mercury’s magnetic field and Saturn’s moon Titan.


Hand, Erich. 2009. Early galaxies surprise with size. Nature News (1 April)