Astronomers Locate Most Distant Known Galaxy in the Universe

Posted on October 27, 2013

Astronomers have located the most distant known galaxy in the universe. The image above shows the galaxy, named z8_GND_5296. The image was taken from the Hubble Space Telescope CANDELS survey.

The astronomers, lead by University of Texas at Austin astronomer Steven Finkelstein, say the galaxy is seen at about 700 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was just 5% of its current age of 13.8 billion years. The research team used the Keck I Telescope in Hawaii to measure the redshift of the CANDELS galaxy. It is the highest galaxy redshift ever confirmed. An artist's rendition of the galaxy is pictured below.

The astronomers say galaxy z8_GND_5296 is forming stars extremely rapidly. It is producing stars at a rate 150 times as fast as our own Milky Way galaxy. The researchers also say there may be more distant galaxies out there, but they are currently hidden from view. The research team says in a release, "The researchers suspect they may have zeroed in on the era when the universe made its transition from an opaque state in which most of the hydrogen gas between galaxies is neutral to a translucent state in which most of the hydrogen is ionized (called the Era of Re-ionization). So it's not necessarily that the distant galaxies aren't there. It could be that they're hidden from detection behind a wall of neutral hydrogen, which blocks the Lyman alpha signal the team was looking for."

A larger version of the Hubble image can be found here. The research paper was published in the journal, Nature. For reference on distant objects, Wikipedia has been compiling a list of the most distant astronomical objects.

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