Scientists have discovered a nursery full of monstrous cosmic babies. In a study published Friday in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, researchers report nine so-called monster galaxies — ones bursting with rampant star formation — from the early days of the Universe.

Once upon a time, the Universe was full of galaxies that grew at monstrous rates — thousands of times faster than modern galaxies. Scientists believe that these baby monsters grew into more typical spiral galaxies over time, but they don't know much about how that process worked. In fact, we don't know much about these monstrous babies at all, because they tend to be surrounded by the sort of cosmic dust that makes it difficult to observe them.

These newly discovered galaxies, which were found some 11.5 billion light-years away using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), might help prove one theory about their monstrous ilk. When researchers looked at the positions of these galaxies relative to each other and some previously known clusters, they determined that the monsters sit inside the intersection of massive filaments of dark matter. This 3-D web of dark matter (for a reminder of what exactly that is, click here) helps shape the visible Universe, even though it can't itself be seen.

That supports the hypothesis that these galaxies form in areas dense with dark matter, bringing scientists a step closer to understanding their origin — and perhaps, by extension, the origin of many spiral galaxies.

Correction: This post has been updated. In an earlier version, we said "solar system" in an instance when we meant "Universe"

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