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Astronomers have discovered the brightest galaxy yet found in the early Universe

and found strong evidence that examples of the first generation of stars lurk w
ithin it.
The team, led by David Sobral from the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Scien
ces, the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon in Portugal, and Leiden
Observatory in the Netherlands, peered back into the ancient Universe, to the r
eionization period approximately 800 million years after the Big Bang.
The newly found galaxy, named CR7, is three times brighter than the brightest di
stant galaxy known up to now.
Keck Observatory was tremendously important in spectroscopically confirming what
are now the most luminous of these distant sources, including the most luminous
, the CR7 galaxy (COSMOS Redshift 7), said Sobral, adding that the Keck II teles
cope fitted with the DEIMOS instrument spectroscopically confirmed CR7 in 15 min
utes, even though the galaxy is 13 billion light years away.
By unveiling the nature of CR7 piece by piece, researchers understood that not o
nly had they found by far the most luminous distant galaxy, but also started to
realize that it had every single characteristic expected of Population III stars
. Those stars were the ones that formed the first heavy atoms that ultimately al
lowed us to be here.
Within CR7, bluer and somewhat redder clusters of stars were found, indicating t
hat the formation of Population III stars had occurred in waves, as had been pre
dicted.
What the team directly observed was the last wave of Population III stars, sugge
sting that such stars should be easier to find than previously thought: they res
ide amongst regular stars, in brighter galaxies, not just in the earliest, small
est, and dimmest galaxies, which are so faint as to be extremely difficult to st
udy.