The mystery trapped in the corner of the universe is far more exciting than anyone imagined. As time goes by, astronomers discover new riddles every day and solve them in puzzling ways. Sometimes astronomers will find things in the places they least expect. This is exactly what happened when a group of astronomers were looking for simple samples of distant galaxies. Using radio waves, they discovered two “invisible” galaxies hidden behind the dust curtain near the dawn of the universe. So far, this dust curtain has prevented them from seeing the galaxy. These galaxies are named REBELS-12-2 and REBELS-29-2, and they are one of the most distant galaxies known.
Although the light from them has traveled 13 billion years to reach Earth, these galaxies are actually farther away than they are now—a staggering 29 billion light-years away. This is because the universe is constantly expanding. Astronomers use the Atacama Large Millimeter Wave Array (ALMA) to capture radio waves.
The researchers detailed their findings in a paper published in the journal Nature. The study showed that there were far more galaxies in the early universe than previously thought, and raised new questions about our understanding of the universe. Astronomers have calculated that 10% to 20% of galaxies in the early universe may be hidden behind dust clouds, waiting to be discovered one day.
Astronomers usually use the Hubble Space Telescope to study the mysteries of the universe. Although Hubble has the most unobstructed view of the universe, it cannot see everything because it mainly observes the sky in ultraviolet and visible wavelengths. So this group of astronomers used the ALMA telescope, which has an operating wavelength of 0.32 mm to 3.6 mm.
The author of the study, Pascal Oesch, said that they were using ALMA to observe a group of very distant galaxies, and then they noticed that two of them had a “nonexistent” neighbor. These two neighboring galaxies are surrounded by dust, blocking some of their light, and Hubble cannot see them.
“We are trying to put together the big mystery about the formation of the universe and answer the most basic question:’Where did all this come from?'” Osch told New Atlas.
Astronomers are now waiting for more powerful instruments to enter space so that their work can move forward. One of these power tools is the James Webb Space Telescope, which will specialize in infrared imaging of the universe. It is scheduled to be launched at the end of this year, possibly on December 22.