Monday, October 10, 2011

Galaxy Farthest Away

[That pale red dot in the middle of the Hubble image {below} is what astronomers say is the furthest and earliest galaxy ever seen in the Universe. This is the deepest infrared image taken of the Universe. Based on the object’s colour, astronomers believe that its light has taken 13.2 billion years to reach us. The current known age of the Universe is 13.7 billion years.

“These observations provide us with our best insights yet into the likely nature of the earlier generation of primeval objects that we are yet to find,” said Rychard Bouwens of Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Spectroscopic confirmation that this is indeed the most distant galaxy ever seen is expected to come from the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope, which is planned for launch later this decade.

The dim object, called UDFj-39546284, is likely to be a compact galaxy of blue stars that existed 480 million years after the Big Bang, only four percent of the Universe’s current age. It is tiny. Over one hundred such mini-galaxies would be needed to make up our own galaxy, the Milky Way.]

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