eso9528 — Science Release
A Galaxy is Born in a Swirling Hydrogen Cloud
23 October 1995: Astronomers from the University of Leiden have discovered an extremely distant, enormous gas cloud. It is probably a 'cocoon' from which one or more galaxies are in the process of being born, soon after the Big Bang. The observations also indicate that this gas cloud is slowly rotating, an entirely new result of great cosmological significance. The discovery was made with the ESO 3.5-metre New Technology Telescope (NTT) at La Silla in Chile by a team consisting of Rob van Ojik, Huub Röttgering, Chris Carilli, George Miley and Malcolm Bremer from Leiden Observatory (The Netherlands) and Duccio Macchetto of the European Space Agency (ESA) stationed in Baltimore, U.S.A. Their extensive observations are reported in an article accepted for publication in the professional European journal `Astronomy and Astrophysics' and also as a chapter of van Ojik's Ph.D. thesis which is defended at the University of Leiden on October 25. This exciting result casts new light on one of the most important questions of modern cosmology, i.e. how lumpy galaxies were 'born' out of the extremely smooth fireball produced during the Big Bang.