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Caltech Astronomers Discover The Oldest, Most Distant Galaxy

It goes by the name of EGS8p7, and despite its banal moniker it may very well be the most distant thing ever discovered by anyone, anywhere.

This past week a team of researchers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) found the EGS8p7 galaxy and estimate that the distant space-neighborhood is 13.2 billion years old, putting its birth about 600,000 after the birth of the universe.

About 500,000 years after the universe was born, galaxies started to form and, according to the experts, EGS was one of the first.

What the galaxy may not have in youth it makes up for in stars.

The Caltech scientists were quoted as saying in a Business Insider article that the galaxy is home to “unusually luminous” and could be “powered by a population of unusually hot stars.”

The galaxy we have observed is named EGS8p7, is unusually luminous and may be powered by a population of unusually hot stars.

A photo included in a UPI article about the discovery shows a plethora of colored specks, some bigger than others. A white arrow with the label “EGSY8p7” points to a small, nearly imperceptible off-white speck.

Part of the scientists fascination about the galaxy is that it contains hot hydrogen gas which shows up on satellite photos as a “Lyman-alpha line”.

Usually galaxies as old as EGSY8p7 don’t have any hot hydrogen gas because the earliest hydrogen clouds went neutral. But the new discovery goes against the assumption that “most of the radiation from this galaxy would be absorbed.”

We expect that most of the radiation from this galaxy would be absorbed by the hydrogen in the intervening space. Yet still we see Lyman-alpha from this galaxy.

Scientists involved with the project said they will continue to research the galaxy to understand the timeline of ionization and other events which took place when the universe was forming.

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