Ultra Distant Galaxy From Early Universe Discovered By Astronomers

Posted: Apr 12 2017, 3:32am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 12 2017, 3:42am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Ultra Distant Galaxy from Early Universe Discovered by Astronomers
Faint and distant galaxy that lies 13.1 billion years in the past. Credit: NASA/Keck/Austin Hoag/Marusa Bradac

The 13.1 billion year old galaxy is detected by Hubble Space Telescope and Maunakea telescope in Hawaii

Astronomers have discovered an incredibly distant galaxy from the early universe. The galaxy, named MACS1423-z7p64, is 13.1 billion years in the past and astronomers think it is very 'typical' of its time.

“Other most distant objects are extremely bright and probably rare compared to other galaxies,” said lead researcher Austin Hoag from University of California Davis. “We think this is much more representative of galaxies of the time.”

The discovery, however, can provide more insight into a critical period in the evolution of universe. The “Epoch of Reionization,” refers to a period about a billion years after the Big Bang during which the universe become transparent by the emergence of first luminous sources like stars, galaxies, quasars or the combination of the above. The period marked the end of the cosmic “dark ages” and created the universe as we know today.

Right after the Big Bang, the universe was like a cloud of atomic hydrogen which blocks light. When first stars and galaxies were formed and started to emit light, they reionized hydrogen gas. They melted away the atomic hydrogen like a hot sun clearing fog and the light from the first galaxies spread through the universe.

Most of these remnants no longer exist in the cosmos. To find such faint and distant objects, researchers used the gravity of massive galaxy clusters as a lens. The technique is called gravitational lensing. As light passes a massive object such as a galaxy cluster its path gets bent by gravity, just as light gets bent passing through a lens. The lens can also magnify the image of object behind it.

While surveying the sky around massive galaxy clusters, researchers have stumbled across this ultra-faint galaxy. Though it was similar to millions of other galaxies of its time, it was lying behind a massive galaxy cluster in a way that made it visible to the researchers. The discovery was made using Hubble Space Telescope. It was later confirmed by the observations from Keck Observatory telescopes in Hawaii.

In the future, researchers are planning to survey skies through James Webb Space telescope, which is bigger than Hubble and will allow astronomers to look at even more distant parts of the Universe. Set for 2018, Webb telescope will open up new possibilities and enable researchers to answer many longstanding questions about universe.

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