Feeds

Oldest galaxy found behind big cluster

Always in the last place you look

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

Scientists at CalTech may have discovered the most distant object known, and thus the oldest ever seen. If the galaxy, which lies behind the Abell 2218 cluster, is as old as researchers currently think, then the light which has now reached Earth is just 750 million years younger than the universe itself.

The galaxy was identified using the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck telescopes on Mauna Kau in Hawaii. It is visible thanks to the gravitational lens effect of the Abell 2218 cluster which is so massive that it bends and amplifies the light passing through it, acting as a natural lens in space.

As the universe expands, everything in it moves away from everything else. This causes light to be red shifted; the wavelength of the light increases. The further away an object is, the faster it is receding, and the further redshifted the light is. In this case, the ultraviolet light has been shifted to the infrared.

The astronomers estimate that this object is approximately 2,000 light-years across. This is very small compared with our own galaxy, which is approximately 70,000 light years from centre to tip.

The little galaxy is also forming stars extremely actively. It apparently lacks the typically bright hydrogen emission line, while its ultraviolet light is much stronger than that seen in star-forming galaxies closer by.

"The properties of this distant source are very exciting because, if verified by further study, they could represent the hallmark of a truly young stellar system that ended the Dark Ages," added Dr. Richard Ellis, Steele Professor of Astronomy at Caltech.

"Dark Ages" refers to the time in cosmic history when hydrogen atoms first formed but stars had not yet begun to shine. Nobody is quite clear how long this phase lasted, and the detailed study of the cosmic sources that brought this period to an end is a major goal of modern cosmology.

Hubble may be on borrowed time, but researchers are making sure they get good use out of the time they have left. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
MEN WANTED to satisfy town full of yearning BRAZILIAN HOTNESS
'Prettier, better organised, more harmonious than if men were in charge'
Cops baffled by riddle of CHICKEN who crossed ROAD
'Officers were unable to determine Chicken's intent'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Drunkards warned: If you can't walk in a straight line, don't shop online, you fool!
Put it away boys. Cover them up ladies. Your credit cards, we mean
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Murder accused DIDN'T ask Siri 'how to hide my roommate'
US court hears of cached browser image - not actual request
Chomp that sausage: Brits just LOVE scoffing a Full Monty
Sales of traditional brekkie foods soar as hungry folk get their mitts greasy
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?