The Milky Way today is a spiral-shaped disk of swirling gas orbiting a central hub of stars—signs of a mature galaxy. Researchers have assumed that most younger galaxies are misshapen and full of chaotically moving gas.
Now, astronomers have identified a galaxy that had already begun to resemble the modern Milky Way when the universe was only 3 billion years old, one-fifth of its current age.
In a high-resolution search of the heavens, a team led by Reinhard Genzel of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany used one of the four Very Large Telescopes in Paranal, Chile, outfitted with a rapidly deformable mirror. The mirror compensates for the b