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News Release 32 of 296

November 15, 2012 01:00 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2012-36

NASA Great Observatories Find Candidate for Most Distant Galaxy Yet Known

November 15, 2012: By combining the power of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, and one of nature's own natural "zoom lenses" in space, astronomers have set a new distance record for finding the farthest galaxy yet seen in the universe. The diminutive blob, which is only a tiny fraction of the size of our Milky Way galaxy, offers a peek back into a time when the universe was 3 percent of its present age of 13.7 billion years. The newly discovered galaxy, named MACS0647-JD, is observed 420 million years after the big bang. Its light has traveled 13.3 billion years to reach Earth.

This is the latest discovery from a large program that uses natural zoom lenses to reveal distant galaxies in the early universe. The Cluster Lensing And Supernova survey with Hubble (CLASH) is using massive galaxy clusters as cosmic telescopes to magnify distant galaxies behind them, an effect called gravitational lensing.

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Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Postman and D. Coe (STScI), and the CLASH Team