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News Release 559 of 1051

February 15, 2004 12:00 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2004-08

Hubble and Keck Team Up to Find Farthest Known Galaxy in Universe

February 15, 2004: An international team of astronomers may have set a new record in discovering what is the most distant known galaxy in the universe. Located an estimated 13 billion light-years away, the object is being viewed at a time only 750 million years after the big bang, when the universe was barely 5 percent of its current age. The primeval galaxy was identified by combining the power of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and CARA's W. M. Keck Telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. These great observatories got a boost from the added magnification of a natural "cosmic gravitational lens" in space that further amplifies the brightness of the distant object.

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Q & A: Understanding the Discovery

  1. 1. Why does the newly discovered distant galaxy appear as multiple images?

  2. The distant galaxy appears as an arc (left) and a dot (right), as its light is forced along different paths through the cluster's core of complex clumps of mass (the yellow galaxies), where the magnification is quite large.

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Credit: ESA, NASA, J.-P. Kneib (Caltech/Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées) and R. Ellis (Caltech)