Mystery Blob Discovered Near Dawn of Time

Space researchers announced a couple of days ago that a primordial blob has been discovered and that it might be the most massive object ever discovered in the early universe.
The blob is in fact a gas cloud found at 12.9 billion light-years away from the Earth and it could help us understand the earliest stages of galaxy formation when the Universe was just 800 million years old.
“I have never heard about any (similar) objects that could be resolved at this distance,” said Masami Ouchi, a researcher at the Carnegie Institution in Pasadena, Calif. “It’s kind of record-breaking.”
A light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). An object 12.9 billion light-years away is seen as it existed 12.9 billion years ago, and the light is just now arriving.
The gas cloud predates other similar blobs, known as Lyman-Alpha blobs, which existed when the universe was 2 billion to 3 billion years old. The new found cloud was named Himiko, after an ancient Japanese queen with an equally mysterious past.
Himiko has a mass over 10 times the mass of the largest object found in the early Universe and approximately the equivalent mass of 40 billion suns. The cloud spans about half the diameter of our Milky Way Galaxy and has about 55,000 light years across.
Nowadays telescopes have peer with great difficulty far back to the dawn of the Universe and so the blobs like Lyman-Alpha are still coverd in mystery. Himiko could be an ionized gas halo surrounding a super-massive black hole, or a cooling gas cloud that indicates a primordial galaxy, Ouchi noted. But it might also be the result of a collision between two young galaxies, or the outgoing wind of a highly active star nursery, or a single giant galaxy.
“We’re planning deep infrared imaging with the Hubble Space Telescope to tell whether (Himiko) has merger-like qualities or not,” Ouchi said.
“We never believed that this bright and large source was a real distant object,” Ouchi said. “We thought it was a foreground interloper contaminating our galaxy sample. But we tried anyway.”


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