Experts had been analysing a patch of sky that had been snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope when they decided to use a new tool to discover secrets of the universe.
Researchers used the MUSE instrument on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile while measuring the distances and properties of 1,600 galaxies that were spotted by Hubble.
The 72 newly found galaxies emit a Lyman-alpha light – a wavelength of ultraviolet light.
MUSE can measure light which is emitted, absorbed or scattered in space. Using this, the researchers can tell how fast galaxies and stars are moving away from Earth in the ever expanding universe.
Study leader Roland Bacon, an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics Research of Lyon at the University of Lyon in France, said: “MUSE can do something that Hubble can’t — it splits up the light from every point in the image into its component colours to create a spectrum.
“This allows us to measure the distance, colours and other properties of all the galaxies we can see — including some that are invisible to Hubble itself.”
Jarle Brinchmann, astronomer at Leiden University in the Netherlands and lead author of one of the 10 papers that will be published on the researchers findings, said: “MUSE has the unique ability to extract information about some of the earliest galaxies in the universe — even in a part of the sky that is already very well-studied.
“We learn things about these galaxies that [it] is only possible [to learn] with spectroscopy, such as chemical content and internal motions — not galaxy by galaxy, but all at once for all the galaxies.”
The researchers also discovered hydrogen halos in old galaxies which will give scientists an insight into how materials left and entered galaxies when they were beginning to form in the universe’s infancy.