Feeds

Oldest galaxy found behind big cluster

Always in the last place you look

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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
NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'
Spooks ask Dabbsy to suggest a nice hotel with pool
Russia sends SEX-CRAZED GECKOS to SPAAAAACE!
In space... no one can hear you're green...
Indian techies-in-training face down MAN-EATING LEOPARD - and WIN
Big cat causes big trouble at Mumbai college
Carlos: Slim your working week to just three days of toil
'Midas World' vision suggests you retire later, watch more tellie and buy more stuff
Yahoo! Japan! launches! service! for! the! dead!
If you're reading this email, I am no longer alive
Plucky Rockall podule man back on (proper) dry land
Bold, barmy Brit adventurer Nick Hancock escapes North Atlantic islet
Motorist 'thought car had caught fire' as Adele track came on stereo
'FIRE' caption on dashboard prompts dunderheaded hard shoulder halt
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.