A newly discovered galaxy is said to be the farthest galaxy from Earth ever found. It is a baby blue galaxy from the universe’s first generation of galaxies that is believed to give scientists the possibility to look at the universe 13.1 billion years ago, when it was only about 670 million years old.
The researchers from the University of California Santa Cruz and Yale were able to locate and determine the age of the galaxy called EGS-zs8-1, using three different very powerful telescopes. They could also identify this galaxy as being both the furthest one known back in time and the most distant from the Earth, appearing in the constellation Bootes.
The photo the researchers took represents a window into the early universe, not long after the Dark Ages, when the stars and galaxies were just being born and the universe was much smaller. The galaxy was probably 100 millions old at the time but it was extremely prolific, given the fact that even if it was small, it was producing stars at an incredible rate, 80 times faster than our home galaxy Milky Way does.
According to Pascal Oesch, lead study author from Yale University, “it has already grown more than 15 percent of the mass of our own Milky Way today… but it had only 670 million years to do so. The universe was still very young then.”
However, the light that prevails from it is much bluer, said Garth Illingworth, professor of astrophysics and astronomy at UC Santa Cruz and co-author of the study.
EGS-zs8-1 was first detected by Hubble and Spitzer, NASA’s telescopes. The galaxy was first spotted by Yale astronomer Pascal Oesch while he was looking at images captured by Hubble Space Telescope in 2013.
At the time, he could only regard it as an unidentified bright object, so he used the Spitzer to take another look at it. The most difficult task, though, was not to identify it but to determine its age and distance from the Earth. They did so by using the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, where they used the ten-meter telescope, which helped them separate light waves.
Even if the galaxy only beats the former record by 30 million years in terms of distance, its discovery is extremely important because the measurements were not easy to determine, making EGS-zs8-1 one of the few galaxies to have the distance calculated.
According to co-author Pieter van Dokkum from Yale University, “every confirmation adds another piece to the puzzle of how the first generations of galaxies formed in the early universe.” Therefore, this discovery shows that these distant galaxies have different characteristics from the galaxies we can see in the universe today.
The results of the study were published in the Astrophysical Journal.
Image Source: Space