Researchers from Montreal and India have almost succeeded in going back in time by detecting a radio signal that originated 8.8 billion years ago from the most distant galaxy known to date.
The signal received by the team was emitted by this galaxy when the universe was just 4.9 billion years old and gave researchers a glimpse into the early universe, McGill University said in a statement Thursday.
Thanks to the giant Metrewave radio telescope in India, the researchers managed to capture this radio signal, which originates from the farthest galaxy known to date.
Until now, astronomers have had to focus on nearby galaxies, as signals from distant galaxies have been weak and therefore difficult to detect.
“But thanks to a natural phenomenon called gravitational lensing, we were able to pick up a faint signal from a record distance. This will allow us to understand the composition of galaxies located very far from Earth,” said Arnab Chakraborty, a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University led by Professor Matt Dobbs.
This discovery could thus open a window on the origin of the universe.
“It’s like going back in time to 8.8 billion years ago,” said the researcher, who studies cosmology in McGill University’s Department of Physics.
These results also pave the way to exciting possibilities for studying the cosmic evolution of stars and galaxies using existing low-frequency radio telescopes, the final statement said.