Experts Puzzled by Strange Space Blob

By Jeremy Hsu

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Space.com

(April 22) — A newly found primordial blob may represent the most massive object ever discovered in the early universe, researchers announced Wednesday.
The gas cloud, spotted from 12.9 billion light-years away, could signal the earliest stages of galaxy formation back when the universe was just 800 million years old.

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M. Ouchi, Carnegie Institution for Science / AFP

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This is a composite, false-color image of the biggest known object in the early universe — a gas blob with a mass equal to that of 40 billion suns. The object is 12.9 billion light-years away (the bar at lower right represents 10,000 light-years). The blob could be a relic of the earliest stages of galaxy formation. Scientists named it Himiko, after an ancient Japanese queen.

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“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. 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 cloud predates similar blobs, known as Lyman-Alpha blobs, which existed when the universe was 2 billion to 3 billion years old. Researchers named their new find Himiko, after an ancient Japanese queen with an equally murky past.
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