Northamptonshire man discovers new galaxy 10 billion light years away

Zbigniew Chetnik was the first person to identify a unique galaxy 10 billion light years away.
Zbigniew Chetnik was the first person to identify a unique galaxy 10 billion light years away.

A Northamptonshire man has discovered a new galaxy 10 billion light years from Earth.

Amateur astronomer Zbigniew Chetnik, from Badby, made the amazing discovery as part of an online search led by the BBC’s Stargazing Live programme.

Mr Chetnik, was the first person to discover the image of the galaxy which has since been named in his honour.

He said: “I have an observatory in my garden at home, and what interests me is deep space objects.

“They can be very difficult to see. People know you have to have a ‘clear sky’, but for what I’m looking for it has to be very clear. That’s why when I saw the appeal for help with this on-line project looking for deep space objects, I thought I’d give it a go.

“I was one of six people who spotted the image. But apparently I was the first.”

Mr Chetnik, who is also known as Zbish, had spotted the light from a distant galaxy being bent by gravity around a closer galaxy, producing a halo around it.

Scientists involved with the programme used the Lovell radio telescope at Jodrell Bank to look at the object, and phoned observatories in the Canaries, and Hawaii to get more data on it.

Mr Chetnik said: “To have some of the largest telescopes in the world looking at it, I realised it must be something very interesting.”

It was thought the galaxy could be named after Albert Einstein, but after being backed by Professor Brian Cox, a name to represent Mr Chetnik’s work was picked instead.

Mr Chetnick said: “I’ve never won the Lottery, but I imagine this is what it feels like.”

The Galaxy discovered by Zbigniew ‘Zbish’ Chetnik has been named 9Spitch after his nickname was misheard by a television producer.

Discussing his appearance on Stargazing Live, Mr Chetnik said: “The producers had asked my name and nickname, but they must have misheard Zbish as Spitch because that’s what appeared on the screen, so people were suggesting 9Spitch as the object’s name. I guess it’s lucky in a way as Spitch was far more likely to be used then Zbish!”