|Hubble Reveals the Most Furthest Galaxy Recorded in History
Scientists have Found the Most Distant Space Object yet Observed
Scientists have found the most distant space object yet observed: a galaxy born just 500 million years after the Big Bang.
collection of stars, called UDFy-38135539, is 13.1 billion light years
away, so its light has taken almost the entire life of the universe to
The study's co-author, University of Bristol astrophysicist Malcolm
Bremer, says the image was made possible by a recent upgrade of the
Hubble Space Telescope.
"A short while ago the Hubble Space Telescope
was upgraded with a new infrared camera that enabled an image - a very,
very deep image - of a small part of the universe to be taken," says
Looking at those images other astronomers identified potential
candidates. "We then took one of the most likely high redshift
candidates and actually took spectroscopy of it to show that it was
indeed at a very great distance from us. It turns out the most distant
object that we've yet confirmed the distance of."
The team reporting the results said they used images from
a 2009 Hubble Space Telescope survey to determine which galaxy
"candidate" to study.
Their large ground-based telescope, located in
Chile, can see in the near-infrared, allowing it to find light-emitting
objects that were otherwise hidden in the opaque fog.
The record-breaking discovery, reported Wednesday in the
journal Nature, may aid exploration of a crucial period in the early
history of the cosmos — a time when light from the earliest stars broke
up the fog of hydrogen gas that shrouded the universe shortly after the
That process created the "reionized" universe that exists
today, scientists think.
Scientists believe UDFy-38135539 consisted of about
a billion stars and its light will continue shining at the current
intensity for several tens of millions of years to come, although the
galaxy itself may have long ago disappeared or been swallowed up by
younger clusters of stars.
An ancient galaxy has entered the record books after being confirmed as the most distant object in the universe.
The Most Distant Galaxy in the Universe So Far
team of astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope has measured the
distance to the most remote galaxy so far.
This is the first time that astronomers have been able to confirm that
they are observing a galaxy as it was in the era of reionization — when
the first generation of brilliant stars was making the young Universe
transparent and ending the cosmic Dark Ages.
Professor Malcolm Bremer, from the University of Bristol, one of the
British astronomers, said:
''These observations are at the limit of what
can be achieved with the best current technology on the best telescopes
available today. In the near term, improvements to that technology and
the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (successor to the Hubble
Space Telescope) will improve our ability to carry out studies like
The new galaxy does not have a name - just a series of
letters and numbers. So Lehnert said he and colleagues have called it
"the high red-shift blob.
"Because it takes so long for the light to
travel such a vast time and distance, astronomers are seeing what the
galaxy looked like 13.1 billion years ago at a time when it was quite
young - maybe even as young as 100 million years old - Lehnert said. It
has very little of the carbon or metal that we see in more mature stars
and is full of young, blue massive stars, he said.
The galaxy UDFy-38135539 joins an elite group of
far-flung cosmic objects in the distant regions of the universe. Until
now, the object known to be the most distant in the universe was the
gamma-ray burst discovered just last year, whose light took about 13
billion years to reach here. The most remote galaxy was IOK-1, whose
light took 12.88 billion years to reach Earth.
Although the difference in age of 100 million years or so between that
gamma-rayburst and UDFy-38135539 might not seem like much, "in that
time, the universe changes rather dramatically — reionization happened
over just a few hundred million years," Lehnert told SPACE.com.
This is not the first of Hubble’s successes. The telescope, which has
been in orbit for 20 years, previously determined the exact age of the
universe - about 13 and a half billion years.
Hubble's History Told by Hubble's Scientists
Named after the Astronomer
Space Telescope (HST) is a space telescope that was carried into orbit
by a space shuttle in 1990. Although not the first space telescope,
Hubble is one of the largest and most versatile, and is well-known as
both a vital research tool and a public relations boon for astronomy.
The HST was built by the United States space agency NASA, with
contributions from the European Space Agency, and is operated by the
Space Telescope Science Institute. It is named after the astronomer
Edwin Hubble. The HST is one of NASA's Great Observatories, along with
the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and
the Spitzer Space Telescope.
Space telescopes were proposed as early as 1923. Hubble was funded in
the 1970s, with a proposed launch in 1983, but the project was beset by
technical delays, budget problems, and the Challenger disaster. When
finally launched in 1990, scientists found that the main mirror had been
ground incorrectly, severely compromising the telescope's capabilities.
However, after a servicing mission in 1993, the telescope was restored
to its intended quality. Hubble's orbit outside the distortion of
Earth's atmosphere allows it to take extremely sharp images with almost
no background light. Hubble's Ultra Deep Field image, for instance, is
the most detailed visible-light image ever made of the universe's most
Many Hubble observations have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics, such
as accurately determining the rate of expansion of the universe.Hubble
is the only telescope designed to be serviced in space by astronauts.
Four servicing missions were performed from 1993 to 2002, but the fifth
was canceled on safety grounds following the Space Shuttle Columbia
However, after spirited public discussion, NASA administrator Mike
Griffin approved one final servicing mission, completed in 2009. The
telescope is now expected to function until at least 2014, when its
scientific successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is due to