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News Release 18 of 49

July 31, 2014 10:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2014-33

Hubble Shows Farthest Lensing Galaxy Yields Clues to Early Universe

July 31, 2014: Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have unexpectedly discovered the most distant cosmic magnifying glass yet, produced by a monster elliptical galaxy. The galaxy, seen here as it looked 9.6 billion years ago, is so massive that its gravity bends, magnifies, and distorts light from objects behind it, a phenomenon called gravitational lensing. In the Hubble image, the galaxy is the red object in the enlarged view at left.

The object behind the cosmic lens is a tiny spiral galaxy undergoing a rapid burst of star formation. Its light has taken 10.7 billion years to arrive here. In the Hubble image, the galaxy is seen in the enlarged view at right. Seeing this chance alignment at such a great distance from Earth is a rare find.

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Credit: NASA, ESA, K.-V. Tran (Texas A&M University), and K. Wong (Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy & Astrophysics)