Most distant galaxy discovered

Galaxy seen from era 700 million years after Big Bang

This Hubble Space Telescope image shows the most distant galaxy discovered to date. The green panel zooms in on the galaxy, which is observed as it existed only 700 million years after the Big Bang.

NASA/HST/CANDELS/V. Tilvi and S. Finkelstein

Astronomers have identified the most distant galaxy found to date.

The galaxy, z8_GND_5296, sits 13 billion light-years from Earth, so astronomers see the object as it existed only 700 million years after the Big Bang. Steven Finkelstein of the University of Texas at Austin and his colleagues describe the discovery October 23 in Nature.

The extremely distant galaxy, observed in a patch of sky near the Great Bear constellation, makes new stars more than 100 times faster than the Milky Way, the astronomers report. The observation suggests that the early universe may have more areas with relatively high star formation than astronomers expected. The results also raise questions about the conditions of the early universe and how that environment influences astronomers’ hunt for the first galaxies ever formed. 

photo of Ashley Yeager

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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