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News Release Archive:

News Release 94 of 948

September 19, 2012 01:00 PM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2012-31

NASA Telescopes Spy Ultra-Distant Galaxy Amidst Cosmic 'Dark Ages'

A News Nugget Release

September 19, 2012: With the combined power of NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes, as well as a cosmic magnification effect, astronomers have spotted what could be the most distant galaxy ever seen. Light from the young galaxy captured by the orbiting observatories first shone when our 13.7-billion-year-old universe was just 500 million years old. The far-off galaxy existed within an important era when the universe began to transit from the so-called cosmic dark ages. During this period, the universe went from a dark, starless expanse to a recognizable cosmos full of galaxies. The discovery of the faint, small galaxy opens a window onto the deepest, remotest epochs of cosmic history.

In the big image at left, the many galaxies of the massive cluster MACS J1149+2223 dominate the scene. Gravitational lensing by the giant cluster brightened the light from the newfound galaxy, known as MACS1149-JD, some 15 times. At upper right, a partial zoom-in shows MACS1149-JD in more detail, and a deeper zoom appears to the lower right.

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Credit: NASA, ESA, W. Zheng (JHU), M. Postman (STScI), and the CLASH Team