Newly Found Galaxy Is Oldest One Yet

It emerged about 700 million years after the Big Bang

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 23, 2013 4:54 PM CDT

(Newser) – Residents of the Milky Way, meet z8_GND_5296. That's the not-so-great name of a newly discovered galaxy that just happens to be the most distant—and thus oldest—ever spotted, reports CBS News. Scientists say it formed a mere 700 million years after the Big Bang, and it could shed further light on how the universe came to be. The BBC adds this little mind-bender: "Because it takes light so long to travel from the outer edge of the universe to us, the galaxy appears as it was 13.1 billion years ago."

Not mind-bending enough? Try this from the Washington Post: "We’re looking 95 percent of the way back to the Big Bang. To put that into human terms, that would be like an 80-year-old watching a video of himself on his fourth birthday." The discovery comes courtesy of images taken by the Hubble Telescope and follow-up analysis by astronomers at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii. One weird quirk of the galaxy: It produces stars at a much faster clip than our own, a trait that might have been more typical in the early days of the universe. So can we go even further back? In principle, yes, explains National Geographic, but we'll need bigger telescopes.

File photo of deep space, as captured by the Hubble Telescope.
File photo of deep space, as captured by the Hubble Telescope.   (AP Photo/NASA, European Space Agency)
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