Hubble has spotted an ancient galaxy that shouldn’t exist
This galaxy is so large, so fully-formed, astronomers say it shouldn’t exist at all. It’s called a “grand-design” spiral galaxy, and unlike most galaxies of its kind, this one is old. Like, really, really old. According to a new study conducted by researchers using NASA’s Hubble Telescope, it dates back roughly 10.7-billion years — and that makes it the most ancient spiral galaxy we’ve ever discovered.
“The vast majority of old galaxies look like train wrecks,” said UCLA astrophysicist Alice Shapley in a press release. “Our first thought was, why is this one so different, and so beautiful?”
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The Wheeler Geologic Area is a highly eroded outcropping of layers of volcanic ash, located in the La Garita Mountains of Mineral County, in southern Colorado in the western United States; about 10 miles east north-east of Creede. The ash is the result of eruptions from the La Garita Caldera approximately 25 millions years ago.
The area was designated a National Monument from 1908 until 1950 and was Colorado’s first National Monument. It is now part of the La Garita Wilderness and administered by the Rio Grande National Forest. Lying just below the crest of the range at an elevation of 11,960 feet (3645 m), it can be reached by a 7 mile hike on the East Bellows Trail (FS790), or by a difficult 14 mile four wheel drive road. (x)