A worldwide astronomy team has found what they believe is a new galaxy that is the most distant ever discovered to date and it has been confirmed by scientists. The galaxy is approximately 30 billion light-years from Earth and is aiding researchers in discovering some events instantly following the Big Bang.
The galaxy was discovered by using the Hubble Telescope and its distance was then established at the Keck Observatory located in Hawaii. The official report is being printed in the journal Nature. Because light takes so long to move from the outer rim of the universe to where we are, the galaxy looks as it did over 13 billion years ago.
Lead astronomer Steven Finkelstein, from the University of Texas, said that the galaxy is definitely the farthest away that anyone has confirmed. It is being viewed as it looked about 700 million years after the Big Bang. This distant star cluster has been given the very memorable name of z8_GND_5296. Astronomers were able to determine how far away from Earth it was by analyzing its various colors.
Since the universe is expanding at present and all things are moving away from the earth, light waves are strained, which in turn causes objects to appear redder than they really are. Scientists rate this superficial color-change on a scale that is labeled redshift. They discovered that this galaxy had a 7.51 redshift, which beat the preceding record-holder, which had a 7.21 redshift so that makes this the most distant galaxy ever discovered.
Because it is so far away, z8_GND_5296 seems to be very tiny. In fact, it only has about 1-2 percent of the mass of our Milky Way and seems to be rich with heavier elements. It has a surprising feature that allows it to turn dust and gas to new stars at an extraordinary rate. It tosses them out over a hundred times faster than our galaxy does. This galaxy is the second one that has been found to make such a large number of stars in such a short time, so the galaxy is great not only for being so distant but for how it works.
In upcoming years, astronomers are more likely to begin finding even more distant galaxies when NASA’s Webb Space Telescope is launched and other telescopes that are on the ground are brought online.
Talking about the research is Dr. Marek Kukula, who is a Public Astronomer in Greenwich, U.K. He stated that he believed that along with other suggestions, it is pretty evident there are already evolved galaxies from the very early universe just waiting to be found. The farther away astronomers want to look, the closer they get to possibly discovering the very first stars that ever made up the universe. The next generation of telescopes might be strong enough to do just this.
Although going after very high color redshift galaxies can be very exciting for scientists, it can also be very problematic. Numerous claims of far off galaxies turn out to be more close-by impostors. It seems this galaxy is the most distant one ever to be confirmed by scientists so it is the real deal.
Written by: Kimberly Ruble