AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- It's an exciting discovery in outer space as astronomers come across a giant galaxy by accident and there's a UMass Amherst connection.
Take a look at this. It's a never-before-seen galaxy discovered accidentally by a team of astronomers including UMass Amherst Professor Kate Whitaker.
"The first reaction was 'Is this for real? What did we do wrong?'" Whitaker explained.
Whitaker and Dr. Christina Williams, both UMass Amherst graduates, were in the middle of a research project when the existence of this giant galaxy came into view unexpectedly.
Whitaker told Western Mass News that they now know why they didn’t see it before.
“It’s a combination in the fact that it’s so early in the universe, so that light has been traveling for twelve in a half billion years to get to us...combined with the fact that it’s incredibly dusty," Whitaker said.
Further study showed all the stars within the galaxy were being hidden behind a veil of dust, making it invisible to the naked eye.
Whitaker said even though she and her colleagues didn’t mean to find this monster galaxy, now that they have, it only creates more ideas.
“It just has to make you wonder. It was very non-traditional. It was serendipitously discovered and it makes you wonder how many other galaxies are like this and the way we have been doing it, how many are missing?” Whitaker added.
The only tool to detect the monster galaxy is with NASA’s powerful James Webb Space Telescope, which uses longer wavelengths and with this, we take the next step.
“It’s gonna change. It’s going to revolutionize our view of the early universe and so what we need to be doing now are finding and identifying the really interesting objects we want to take," Whitaker said.