Science News

Galaxy 13.1 Billion Light-Years Away Is Oldest One Yet

Distant Galaxy

EGS-zs8-1 is thought to be one of the earliest galaxies formed in the 13.8 billion year history of the cosmos.

The study of the distant galaxy, published in the journal Astrophysical Letters, is so far away that the light appears faint. Yet, compared with other distant galaxies, it’s surprisingly active and bright, forming stars at roughly 80 times the rate the Milky Way does today. This distant galaxy has built up about 8 billion suns’ worth of mass, more than 15% of the mass of the Milky Way, even though it has been around for a fraction of the Milky Way’s more than 13 billion year history.

The LA Times reports that One of the many challenges with searching for such distant galaxies is being able to tell if they’re bright and far, or dim and near. Astronomers can usually figure out which one it is by measuring how much the distant starlight gets stretched, “redshifted,” from higher-energy light such as ultraviolet down to optical and then infrared wavelengths. First proposed by Edwin Hubble, the Hubble Constant is the unit of measurement used to describe the expansion of the universe. The cosmos has been expanding since the Big Bang.

Discovered by Yale astronomer Pascal Oesch in images taken by NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, the Huffington Post reports that researchers then used the ground-based 10-meter telescope at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii to determine its exact distance from Earth.

Researchers hope to continue the study EGS-zs8-1 and other distant galaxies using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope which, included in a story covered here at Immortal News, is set to launch in 2018.

[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Dr. Garth Illingworth” author_title= “Co author and Professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “] The result of JWST’s upcoming measurements will provide a much more complete picture of the formation of galaxies at the cosmic dawn.[/quote]

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