The Hubble Space Telescope is still finding unique astronomical objects. The latest is BX442, an ancient spiral galaxy that is about 10.7 billion years old. Spiral galaxies are not usually found this far back in time as it was thought that it took a larger amount of time for a galaxy to transform itself into such an ordered state. Other galaxies from this time period don’t have refined shapes due to the fact that most of the universe was still so hot and chaotic. It’s thought that a small dwarf galaxy that orbits BX442 may be responsible for the formation of the spiral arms so early in it’s development.
While there is a small chance that the beautiful spiral arms aren’t actually spiral arms but rather some random assemblage of stars that will simply fly apart, most scientists do think that this is the real deal. Understanding the development of galaxy structures allows us a greater understanding of the universe and our own spiral armed galaxy. The Milky Way (shown on right) also has a few small dwarf galaxies orbiting it like the Large Magelleanic Cloud, Sagittarius Dwarf Spheroidal, and Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy. These galaxies were never thought to have much influence on the structure of the Milky Way, though that may have to be rethought considering this new information about galaxy formation.