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Jan 14, 2016 10:33 AM EST

'Green Pea Galaxies' May Have Helped Reionize Univerese After Bing Bang

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With the discovery of a new classification of galaxies, a team of researchers is able to shed some light on the mysterious "cosmic dark age" that followed the Big Bang.

Published in the journal Nature, the new study detailed how "green pea galaxies" could have bridged the gap between the universe's dark age and its "reionization." During this mysterious time, astronomers believe the universe cooled down over the course of a billion years before heating back up, according to Gizmodo.

First spotted in 2007 with the Sloane Digital Sky Survey, green pea galaxies are small and appear to glow green, hence their nickname.

"This galaxy appears to be an excellent local analog of the numerous dwarf galaxies thought to be responsible for the reionization of the early universe," Trinh Thuan, an astronomer at the University of Virginia, said in a press release. "The finding is significant because it gives us a good place to look for probing the reionization phenomenon, which took place early in the formation of the universe that became the universe we have today."

The galaxies have an abnormally high output of energy, and they likely contributed to the universe's re-heating.

"As we make additional observations using Hubble, we expect to gain a much better understanding of the way photons are ejected from this type of galaxy, and the specific galaxy types driving cosmic reionization," Trinh said. "These are crucial observations in the process of stepping back in time to the early universe. They paved the way to future observations with the successor of Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope, planned for launch in 2018, which is expected to revolutionize the field with updated capabilities for detailing the first galaxies and sources of cosmic re-ionization."

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