Hubble May Have Spotted Most Distant Galaxy Ever

Light detected by the Hubble telescope and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope is believed to have come from the most distant galaxy yet. The galaxy is called MACS0647-JD, and from our perspective, is seen between the Big and Little Dippers.

Scientists combined data from the Hubble space telescope with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to make the discovery. MACS0647-JD would have existed about 13.3 billion years ago, or roughly 420 million years after the Big Bang. This would place it around 200 million years earlier than previous candidates for most distance object ever spotted.

The galaxy cluster in front of MACS0647-JD helped scientists to see it, since the gargantuan gravitational pull of the cluster bends light around it. This creates a gravitational lens that makes distant objects appear much brighter than they otherwise would. If the existence of MACS0647-JD is confirmed, it would help scientists understand how the universe appeared when the first stars and galaxies formed.  

Astronomers will have to crunch some serious numbers before the distance is confirmed. Read more about the findings at Wired. Link -via Geekologie

See a video of the zoom at the Hubble site. Link

(Image credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Postman and D. Coe (Space Telescope Science Institute), and the CLASH team)

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