Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have stumbled on a rare and surprising find: A very distant spiral galaxy, swirling billions of light years away, which formed at a time when such spiral galaxies were thought to be nonexistent. Researchers say it’s an astounding discovery — partly because it raises some questions about prevailing theories of galaxy formation.
Invisible, cold dark matter plays a major role in the evolution of galaxies, according to modern cosmological theory. The most advanced simulations of cosmic evolution show stringy tendrils of mass — dark matter — connecting giant clusters of galaxies via a vast cosmic web. Now for the first time, astronomers have been able to detect one of these filaments, sussing out its location by watching it warp light.