It is not everyday a galaxy is named after a footballer, and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has always been out of this world and that fact got established when astronomers named a galaxy CR7.
The CR7 moniker precedes Ronaldo’s time at Madrid, but goes to his time at United. The nickname is a composition of his initials and shirt number, which he used at both the Old Trafford and Santiago Bernabeu.
However, the nickname now has astronomical symbolism when the European Southern Observatory (ESO) named a galaxy in honour of the Portuguese international, describing it as the brightest to be found in the early universe.
“Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have discovered by far the brightest galaxy yet found in the early Universe and found strong evidence that examples of the first generation of stars lurk within it,” the group explained.
“These massive, brilliant, and previously purely theoretical objects were the creators of the first heavy elements in history – the elements necessary to forge the stars around us today, the planets that orbit them, and life as we know it.
“The newly found galaxy, labelled CR7, is three times brighter than the brightest distant galaxy known up to now.”
The CR7 epithet, in astronomical terms, stands for Cosmic Redshift 7 – a method of measuring a celestial body’s place along the timescale of the universe.
The discovery came after a new expansive study of the skies – aimed at discovering ancient stars known as Population III stars, which were formed very early after the Big Bang – and it is hoped CR7 will help scientists understand how early elements came into being.
“Those stars were the ones that formed the first heavy atoms that ultimately allowed us to be here. It doesn’t really get any more exciting than this,” said team leader David Sobral.