Early galaxies mirror the milky way, alters structure formation understanding

Credit: Unsplash+

New research has significantly altered the pre-existing narrative on the structure formation in the universe, revealing that galaxies resembling our Milky Way have been prevalent throughout the cosmos, much more common than initially thought.

Utilizing the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), an international team of scientists, including members from the University of Manchester and the University of Victoria in Canada, has discovered these galaxies, tracing them back to the universe’s early history, with formations occurring 10 billion years ago or even earlier.

Historically, astronomers believed that disk galaxies, such as the Milky Way, were too fragile to exist in the early universe, primarily due to the prevalent galaxy mergers during that time, potentially compromising their delicate structures.

The research, published in The Astrophysical Journal, contradicts this by showcasing that disk galaxies are ten times more common than previously estimated based on Hubble Space Telescope observations.

Christopher Conselice, a professor of extragalactic astronomy, noted that the research extends the timeframe for the formation of Milky Way-like galaxies to nearly the inception of the universe, challenging long-standing assumptions and prompting a reevaluation of our understanding of the universe’s evolution and the formation of galaxies.

Leonardo Ferreira, the lead author from the University of Victoria, stressed the revelations brought forth by the JWST, highlighting that it offers insights into the genuine structures of galaxies and indicates that structures in the universe form significantly faster than previously assumed.

This groundbreaking discovery propels a comprehensive reconsideration of the existing theoretical framework surrounding the formation of the first galaxies and evolution of galaxies over the past 10 billion years.

It not only reshapes our conceptualization of galactic formation but also prompts crucial inquiries into the nature of dark matter in the early universe, pushing the boundaries of our cosmic understanding.


The new research, employing the James Webb Space Telescope, unveils that galaxies resembling the Milky Way are surprisingly common and have existed since the early universe.

These findings contradict the previous belief that disk galaxies were too fragile and rare in the early universe, redefining them as ten times more common than what was observed by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The revelation necessitates a revisiting of established ideas regarding the universe’s structure formation, prompting scientists to rethink the timeline and processes of galaxy formation and evolution.

The discoveries underline the potential existence and formation of most stars within these galaxies, adding a new dimension to the discussions about dark matter in the early universe.

These revelations offer a renewed perspective on the intricate tapestry of the cosmos, offering profound insights into the celestial dance of galaxies and illuminating the mysterious paths of cosmic evolution, thus enriching our understanding of the majestic universe that cradles us.

The research findings can be found in The Astrophysical Journal.

Follow us on Twitter for more articles about this topic.

Source: University of Manchester