New, trailblazing observations with the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Paranal lend strong support to current computer models of the early universe: It is “spongy”, with galaxies forming along filaments, like droplets along the strands of a spiders web.

A group of astronomers at ESO and in Denmark determined the distances to some very faint galaxies in the neighbourhood of a distant quasar. Plotting their positions in a three-dimensional map, they found that these objects are located within a narrow “filament”, exactly as predicted by the present theories for the development of the first structures in the young universe.

The objects are most likely “building blocks” from which galaxies and clusters of galaxies assemble.

This observation shows a very useful way forward for the study of the early evolution of the universe and the emergence of structures soon after the Big Bang. At the same time, it provides yet another proof of the great power of the new class of giant optical telescopes for cosmological studies.

The full text of this communication from ESO, with photos and a video clip as well as all weblinks, is available at:

Notes for Editors


Palle Moeller European Southern Observatory Garching near Munich, Germany Tel.: +49-89-3206246 email:

Johan Fynbo European Southern Observatory Garching near Munich, Germany Tel.: +49-89-3206554 email:

Bjarne Thomsen Institute of Physics and Astronomy Aarhus, Denmark Tel.: +45-89423617 email: