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November 21, 2013 10:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2013-53

Infant Galaxies Merging Near 'Cosmic Dawn'

November 21, 2013: Astronomers using the combined power of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope have discovered a far-flung trio of primitive galaxies nestled inside an enormous blob of primordial gas. The rare triple system existed when the universe was only 800 million years old. The trio may eventually merge into a single massive galaxy, researchers predict. The researchers state that the system provides key insights into the earliest stages of galaxy formation.

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Credit: NASA, ESA, ESO, NRAO, NAOJ, JAO, M. Ouchi (University of Tokyo), R. Ellis (California Institute of Technology), Y. Ono (University of Tokyo), K. Nakanishi (The Graduate University for Advanced Studies (SOKENDAI) and Joint ALMA Observatory), K. Kohno and R. Momose (University of Tokyo), Y. Kurono (Joint ALMA Observatory), M. Ashby (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astronomy), K. Shimasaku (University of Tokyo), S. Willner and G. Fazio (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), Y. Tamura (University of Tokyo), and D. Iono (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan)