The Fabergé Eggs of the Universe

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Even though a certain auspicious bunny has yet to make his rounds, astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) are already talking eggs.

In an Easter egg hunt of galactic proportions, the astronomers have trained their sights on the distant galaxy called SMM S2135-0102, and what they found in the resulting images was a smorgasbord of stellar goodies. "To a layperson, our images appear fuzzy, but to us, they show the exquisite detail of a Fabergé egg," said the CfA's Steven Longmore in a statement. To the Russian royal family, the opulent Fabergé egg was crafted as a precious gift to commemorate Easter. We're all about spring, and Easter eggs, and peeps around here, but never mind let's get back to the science at hand.

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Thanks to sophisticated telescope technology, the astronomers were able to capture the sharpest images ever seen of "star factories" located some 10 billion light years away from the Earth. These images give us an idea of the early form  of the Milky Way. This particular galaxy was only 3 billion years old when it sent out the light that is just reaching Earth's telescopes today. At that time was a birthing zone for stars. It contains some 250 times more stars than our own Milky Way galaxy.

"We don't fully understand why the stars are forming so rapidly, but our result suggests that stars formed much more efficiently in the early universe than they do today," explained Mark Swinbank of Durham University.

About Jesse Rhodes

Jesse Rhodes is an editorial assistant for Smithsonian magazine. Before he became an editorial assistant, Jesse worked at the Library of Congress Publishing Office, where he was a contributor to the Library of Congress World War II Companion.

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