The European Space Observatory recently announced that astronomers, using the observatory’s Very Large Telescope, have spotted what they think is one of the brightest young galaxies in the universe. In a press release, the ESO says the astronomers “peer[ed] back into the ancient Universe, to a period known as reionisation, approximately 800 million years after the Big Bang…to produce the widest survey of very distant galaxies ever attempted.”
The one they’re most excited about is three times as luminous as any other galaxy of a similar age, making it “by far the brightest galaxy ever observed at this stage in the universe,” the ESO said. Astronomer David Sobral and his colleagues named it CR7, which stands for COSMOS Redshift 7 but is also a nod to the Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo, who is known to fans as CR7. Sobral is affiliated with the University of Lisbon.
What’s special about CR7 (the galaxy) is that it likely contains “Population III,” or “pre-galactic,” stars, the first generation born from the Big Bang. Sobral told the New York Times that these stars “ultimately allowed us all to be here by fabricating heavy elements and changing the composition of the universe.” Previous quests for evidence of these primordial stars had been inconclusive. The existence of these stars in CR7 is not yet confirmed, but researchers are counting on this confirmation coming soon, following additional observations.