'Wolfe disk': Astronomers discover ancient galaxy similar to the Milky Way

WION Web Team
NEW DELHIUpdated: May 25, 2020, 12:33 PM IST
main img

Artist rendition of the Wolfe Disk, a massive, rotating disk galaxy in the early universe. This galaxy was 1st discovered when ALMA examined light from a more distant quasar (top left) (Picture courtesy: @TheNRAO) Photograph:(Twitter)

Story highlights

An enormous disk galaxy from the ancient universe that is pretty similar to our Milky Way galaxy has been observed for the first time.

Astronomers have spotted a massive disk galaxy, that formed 12.5 billion years ago when our 13.8 billion-year-old universe was only a tenth of its current age.

According to the information provided by the astronomers, the galaxy’s disk has a mass of 70 billion times that of our sun. It’s also rotating at 170 miles per second, which is similar to our Milky Way galaxy.


This newly found galaxy is named “Wolfe Galaxy” after astronomer Arthur M Wolfe, the report said, and it’s the most distant, rotating disk galaxy we’ve ever observed.

The report said researchers believe the galaxy “formed and grew” via a method astronomers call “cold-mode accretion.” 

That means that gas, much cooler than normal, was drawn into the galaxy and allowed for quicker formation of the disk.

It said the star formation in the Wolf Disk is “at least 10 times higher than in our own galaxy,” making it “one of the most productive galaxies in the early universe.”

This discovery is challenging how astronomers think about galaxy formation in the early universe.

(With inputs from agencies)