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Milky Way galaxy is 12 billion years old.
IRAS - The Infrared Astronomical satellite - was launched in 1983 and was the first spacecraft to map the entire sky recording over 350,000 sources, and there were some early surprises in the data too. The bright star Vega in the constellation of Lyra was seen to have a cool accretion disk of a primordial Vega (solar) system in the process of formation. A decade later, Astronomers discovered another larger accretion disk of dusty material, this time around the star Formalhaut in the constellation of the Southern Fish, and many more have followed since. Thereafter a new astronomical study was created with to examine primordial accretion disks around other stars. Here Richard Pearson talks to Astronomer Michiel Min about stellar planetary systems.
The Hubble Space Telescope has helped Astronomers discover the youngest known Galaxy in the Universe. This baby galaxy, located 45 million light-years away seems to be only 500 million years old (our own Milky Way galaxy, like many Galaxies in the universe is 12 billion years old). Its interstellar gas is "nearly pristine", comprised mainly of Hydrogen and helium, with only a sprinkling of the heavier elements associated with older galaxies. This discovery gives Astronomers an opportunity to understand how Galaxies first formed.
Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory took this image of Galaxy NGC 6118, located 80 million light-years away. A supernova was discovered exploding just north of the galaxy's centre on August 1, 2004. Astronomers now believe that it is a Type 1b or 1c, which means that it probably arose in a Binary star system; a massive star whose Hydrogen envelope was siphoned off by its stellar partner before it exploded.
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