Almost by accident, we’ve discovered the most distant intergalactic body yet; and it’s by no means close to us.
Designated z8_GND_5296, it was discovered by a combination of infrared and and deep optical telescopes by astronomers from from University of California, Riverside, in conjunction with the at the National Optical Astronomy Observatories University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University. This was confirmed by imagery from the telescope at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii.
By examining the redshift of the galaxy, that is, the shift in light color produced by a moving object, similar to the doppler shift heard in a racecar as it passes by you, this shift allows astronomers and physicists to determine how fast and how far away an object is, as the shift distorts the image more and more to the infrared end of the spectrum. With a redshift of 7.51, and knowing the distance of the intergalactic objects between us and and that galaxy, we’ve been able to extract that the galaxy is over thirty BILLION light years away; and we are seeing it today as it appeared 13.1 Billion Light Years away.
What an incredible find! When they say our universe is a big place, they mean it!
- Astronomers discover most distant galaxy in universe (earthsky.org)
- Astronomers Discover the Most Distant Galaxy Yet (news.nationalgeographic.com)
- Astronomers Discover the Most Distant Known Galaxy (spaceref.com)
- ‘Most distant galaxy’ discovered (bbc.co.uk)
- Astronomers discover most distant known galaxy (latimes.com)
- Texas Astronomer Discovers Most Distant Known Galaxy (utexas.edu)
- New Galaxy Discovered Which Is The Most Distant Yet! (quadrantkeele.wordpress.com)
- Found: Most Distant Galaxy Yet, Age 13 Billion Years (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
- Discovered: the galaxy that’s so far away we’re seeing it as it was 13 billion years ago (independent.co.uk)
Great post but I have a question. As someone who is fascinated by astronomy but has never really studied it and finds it mostly mind-boggling, The fact that the Universe is 13.8 billion years old and we’ve discovered a galaxy that is 30 billion light years away from us hurts my brain.
In completely simple terms does it make sense that that galaxy and our galaxy (or the particles and such that eventually turned into galaxies) started going off in completely opposite directions after the Big Bang?
I’m sure this is a stupid question I am just trying to wrap my head around these sorts of distances.
Hi James! Thanks for the comment…
One of the harder things to grasp when it comes to relativity is light over long distances… particularly distances THIS long… even I find myself going “wait–what?”
The light we’re seeing right now is from when the Galaxy was formed, roughly 700 Million years AFTER the Big Bang, when it was *about* 13 Billion light years away. Taking into account how far it was when the light “started” (what we’re seeing right now), how far away it was then, it’s redshift (the “light” version of the Doppler effect) we can see how fast it’s going, where it’s going, and by the amount of time that’s gone by, we can figure out how far it is now, compared to then.
I know, this is a bitch to grasp. Took me awhile… by no means a stupid question. ;]