This extraordinary image shows something never seen before: a proto-galaxy feeding on the first stuff ever, violently making stars from the pristine hydrogen produced by the Big Bang itself, shortly after the Universe began to exist. It's like having a glimpse into the beginning of everything.
Discovered by Dr Neil Crighton and his colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and the University of California, the image shows the proto-galaxy Q1442-MD50, located 11 billion light-years from us.
Those blue streams are made of that primordial hydrogen. Spanning about 190,000 light-years from the galaxy itself, the tentacles are illuminated by the radiation from a quasar behind them. It validates, for the first time, the computer models that showed how galaxies are formed. As Sci-News, puts it:
gas funnels onto galaxies along thin cold streams which, like streams of snow melt feeding a mountain lake, channel cool gas from the surrounding intergalactic medium onto galaxies, continuously topping up their supplies of raw material for star formation.
Talking to Sci-News, Crighton said that, while this is not the first time such matter has been detected, "it is the first time that everything fits together. The galaxy is vigorously forming stars, and the gas properties clearly show that this is pristine material, left over from the early Universe shortly after the Big Bang."