Scientists from NASA and the ESA have pushed the Hubble Space Telescope to a new distance record. The record comes as the team of researchers has broken the cosmic distance record by measuring the distance to the most distant galaxy ever seen in the Universe. According to scientists, the galaxy they measured existed only 400 million years after the Big Bang.
This feat marks the first item that the distance of an object so far away has been measured from its spectrum making the distance measurement extremely accurate. The newly measured galaxy is called GN-z11 and while the distant galaxy is very faint, the scientists say that it is unusually bright considering how far it is from Earth. With the discovery of a galaxy this bright, yet so distant from Earth the scientists believe there is evidence of other brighter than expected galaxies in other Hubble images that are actually very far from us.
The distance to GN-z11 had been measured in the past by analyzing its color in images snapped with Hubble and the Spitzer Space Telescope. This marks the first time that the Hubble Wide Field camera 3 has been used to offer a precise distance measurement by spectroscopically splitting light from the galaxy into component colors.
“Our spectroscopic observations reveal the galaxy to be even further away than we had originally thought, right at the distance limit of what Hubble can observe,” explains Gabriel Brammer of the Space Telescope Science Institute and second author of the study.
Before making this measurement, the team of scientists believed that the only way to measure something this distant was to use the James Webb Space Telescope set to launch in the coming years. Scientists use redshift to determine how distant an object is from us and GN-z11 has a redshift of 11.1 corresponding t 400 million years after the Big Bang. The previous distance record was a galaxy called EGSY8p7 with a redshift of 8.68.