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Galaxy compared to footballer Peter Crouch

Galaxy compared to footballer Peter Crouch

A newly-discovered galaxy which went through a massive "growth spurt" has been dubbed the astronomical equivalent of 6ft 7in footballer Peter Crouch by scientists.

An artist's impression of the distant galaxy SMM J2135-0102

Distant galaxy SMM J2135-0102 went through a massive 'growth spurt' Photo: ESO/PA

7:30AM GMT 22 Mar 2010

Researchers found that the galaxy created stars up to 100 times faster than the Milky Way does today.

Scientists could look back to how the galaxy appeared 10 billion years ago – three billion years after the Big Bang – due to the length of time its light took to reach Earth.

The team found four star-forming regions within the galaxy, which is known as SMM J2135-0102.

Each region was more than 100 times brighter than star-forming regions in the Milky Way, such as the Orion Nebula.

The research, published today in the scientific journal Nature, suggested that star formation was faster in the early Universe as galaxies went through huge growth, providing new information on how stars formed in the early Universe.

Lead author Dr Mark Swinbank, of the Institute for Computational Cosmology, at Durham University, said: ''This galaxy is like a teenager going through a growth spurt.

''If you could see it today as an adult you'd find the galactic equivalent of the football player Peter Crouch.

''We don't fully understand why the stars are forming so rapidly but our results suggest that stars formed much more efficiently in the early Universe than they do today.

''Galaxies in the early Universe appear to have gone through rapid growth and stars like our sun formed much more quickly than they do today.''

SMM J2135-0102 was found using the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope, which is operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). Follow-up observations were carried out by combining the natural gravitational lens of nearby galaxies with the powerful Submillimeter Array telescope based in Hawaii, to magnify the galaxy even further.

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