A Cosmic Baby-Boom
The Universe was a more fertile place soon after it was formed than has previously been suspected. A team of French and Italian astronomers made indeed the surprising discovery of a large and unknown population of distant galaxies observed when the Universe was only 10 to 30% its present age.
This breakthrough is based on observations made with the Visible Multi-Object Spectrograph (VIMOS) as part of the VIMOS VLT Deep Survey (VVDS). The VVDS started early 2002 on Melipal, one of the 8.2-m telescopes of ESO's Very Large Telescope Array.
In a total sample of about 8,000 galaxies selected only on the basis of their observed brightness in red light, almost 1,000 bright and vigorously star forming galaxies were discovered that were formed between 9 and 12 billion years ago (i.e. about 1,500 to 4,500 million years after the Big Bang).