Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

The bright center of the spiral galaxy, with arms stretching out from it. Photo: ALMA/ESO/NAOJ/NRAO, T. Tsukui & S. Iguchi

A spiral galaxy similar in shape to our Milky Way may have formed just 1.4 billion years after the Big Bang, far earlier than these types of galaxies were expected to emerge, according to a new study.

Why it matters: Understanding how galaxies formed and evolved into what we see now is one of the enduring mysteries in astronomy, and this study takes astronomers one step closer toward solving it.

What they found: The new study, published in the journal Science this week, reports a spiral galaxy named BRI 1335-0417 formed less than 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang.

  • The galaxy appears to have arms stretching from a supermassive black hole and possibly a bulge of star formation at its center.
  • "These results may indicate that spiral structure have formed in a very short period of time after the disk formation, providing important circumstantial evidence to identify the formation process of these galactic structures," Takafumi Tsukui, an author of the new study, told Axios via email.
  • The authors of the study suggest the galaxy could owe its look to an interaction with a smaller galaxy (or galaxies) that may have destabilized gas in the outer part of the galaxy and triggered star formation.

The big picture: If these results are confirmed, it shows these complex, mature galaxies were coalescing before the peak in star formation in the early universe, when galaxies were thought to be building up their mass.

  • Earlier studies suggested that just after the Big Bang, the universe was populated by "protogalaxies" that were a collection of gas and dust that eventually gave rise, after billions of years, to the elliptical and spiral galaxies we see today.
  • The new study suggests that perhaps the universe started to settle down earlier than expected.

What's next: More data is needed before scientists can truly piece together the earliest days of galaxies in our universe.

  • This study shows that ALMA — the telescope used to observe the galaxy — can be used to hunt for others and compare them to ones we see relatively nearby, Tsukui said.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
May 19, 2021 - Science

Big and little black holes feed the same way

Galaxies like this one, M104, are thought to house supermassive black holes at their centers. Photo: NASA/STScI/AURA

No matter the size of a black hole, they all appear to feed the same way, according to a new study.

Why it matters: Black holes are some of the most extreme objects found in our universe. By studying the way they grow, scientists should be able to piece together more about how they work.

Drought pushes 2 major U.S. lakes to historic lows

Kayakers at a boat launch ramp Page, Arizona, on July 3, which was made unusable by record low water levels at Lake Powell as the drought continues to worsen near. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Two significant U.S. lakes, one of which is a major reservoir, are experiencing historic lows amid a drought that scientists have linked to climate change.

What's happening: Lake Powell, the second largest reservoir in the U.S., has fallen 3,554 feet in elevation, leaving the crucial reservoir on the Colorado River, at 33% capacity — the lowest since it was filled over half a century ago, new U.S. Bureau of Reclamation data shows.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

North and South Korea restart hotline and pledge to improve ties

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, North Korea, in 2018. Photo: Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool/Getty Images

North and South Korea's leaders have pledged to improve relations and resume previously suspended communication channels between the two countries.

Why it matters: The resumption of the hotline on Tuesday comes despite stalled negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang on the denuclearization of North Korea, which broke down after a second summit between then-President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended without a deal in 2019.