Hyperion has a mass 1 million billion times greater than the sun
and is so distant that it is viewed from earth as it looked
billions of years ago.
"Hyperion is like 5,000 galaxies of the Milky Way", astronomer
Steffen Miefke, the chief of operations for the European
Southern Observatory, told Reuters. The ESO operates the Very
Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, which detected Hyperion.
Hyperion is an adolescent in astronomy terms. Its distance from
earth means astronomers are viewing it as it was created just
over 2 billion years after the Big Bang, which gave rise to the
universe about 13.8 billion years ago.
"These are galaxies very far from us, almost at the beginning of
the universe, and allow us to understand better how the universe
evolved from the Big Bang until the present day," Miefke said.
"Hyperion is a sixth of the age of the universe. It's as though
we were able to look at the adolescence of an 80-year-old human
The Milky Way galaxy, which hosts our Solar System, is about
13.6 billion years old.
Hyperion was detected using the Visible Multi-Object
Spectrograph, which according to its handlers acts as a "time
machine in the middle of desert, showing us how the universe
looked when it was just a third of its current age.”
The spectrograph is hosted by the Chile-based Very Large
Telescope. The discovery was made by a team led by Olga Cucciati
of the National Institute of Astrophysics in Bologna, Italy.
The telescope sits in the Chilean desert 760 miles north of the
Brian Lemaux, an astronomer from University of California,
Davis, who co-authored the report, said galaxies become denser
as gravity had acted on them over billions of years.
“Superclusters closer to Earth tend to (appear as) a much more
concentrated distribution of mass with clear structural
features,” said Lemaux. “But in Hyperion, the mass is
distributed much more uniformly in a series of connected blobs,
populated by loose associations of galaxies.”
The research, entitled "The progeny of a Cosmic Titan" will
feature in the latest issue of the journal Astronomy &
(Reporting by Aislinn Laing; Editing by David Gregorio)
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