March 3, 2016: NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is an amazing time machine; by looking
back through space, astronomers actually look back through time. Now,
by pushing Hubble to its limits, an international team of astronomers has
shattered the cosmic distance record by viewing the farthest galaxy ever seen. Named GN-z11, this surprisingly bright, infant galaxy is
seen as it was 13.4 billion years in the past. The astronomers saw it as it existed
just 400 million years after the big bang, when the universe was only
three percent of its current age. At a spectroscopically confirmed redshift of
11.1, the galaxy is even farther away than originally thought. It existed
only 200 million to 300 million years after the time when scientists
believe the very first stars started to form. At a billion solar masses,
it is producing stars surprisingly quickly for such an early time. This new
record will most likely stand until the launch of Hubble's successor, the
James Webb Space Telescope, which will look even deeper into the universe
for early galaxies.
To learn even more about galaxy GN-z11, join a live Hubble Hangout discussion with astronomers and scientists at 3:00 p.m. EST on Thurs., March 3, at http://hbbl.us/y6H.