NASA has announced that it has discovered what may be the most distant galaxy ever seen. The galaxy was discovered using both the Hubble space telescope and the Spitzer space telescope. NASA scientists also used the cosmic magnification effect to discover the galaxy far, far away.
According to NASA, our universe is 13.7 billion years old and light from the galaxy first shone when the universe was only 500 million years old. NASA says that the light from the galaxy comes from the cosmic dark ages. NASA claims that during this cosmic dark age period, the universe went from dark and starless to a recognizable cosmos full of galaxies.
Light from this ancient galaxy traveled 13.2 billion light-years before NASA discovered the galaxy with the two space telescopes. The starlight picked up by Hubble, and Spitzer left its home galaxy when the universe was only 3.6% of its present age. NASA says that galaxies in this age range previously detected were only glimpsed in a single waveband of light.
However, this new galaxy was seen in five Different wavebands of light. The galaxy is visible in four visible wavelength bands as well as the infrared. The astronomers used gravitational lensing to discover the distant galaxy. Gravitational lensing is a phenomenon where the gravity of foreground objects warps and magnifies the light from background objects. NASA says that a massive galaxy cluster between our galaxy and this new found distant galaxy magnified the light by about 15 times allowing NASA astronomers to discover the distant galaxy. This distant galaxy is very small and compact; NASA estimates that it contains only about 1% of the Milky Way’s mass.