Although the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched into outer space in the 1990’s, is being set to be replaced soon by the more advanced James Webb Space Telescope, that’s not to say that it’s still not a useful piece of equipment.
Researchers have recently used the Hubble Space Telescope to spot a distant galaxy more distant than any other galaxy on record. It’s the oldest galaxy ever observed, and is thought to have formed some 400 million years after the Big Bang due to data collected from light analyses.
"Our spectroscopic observations reveal the galaxy to be even farther away than we had originally thought, right at the distance limit of what Hubble can observe," said Gabriel Brammer of STScI, second author of the study.
The galaxy, which is named GN-z11 and was found in the Ursa Major constellation, is approximately 32 billion light years away from the Earth and is being observed as it appeared 13.4 billion years ago because it takes that long for the light from that point in our universe to reach us. With that being said, it probably looks much different now than what we’re seeing.
More statistics illustrate that the GN-z11 galaxy is young and about 25 times bigger than our Milky Way galaxy, but that it only contains about 1% of our galaxy’s mass in stars. Scientists are surprised by how bright the galaxy is considering it lacks the star mass of other galaxies, and note that it’s growing at an exponentially high rate.
Since the galaxy is just about at the limit of visibility for the Hubble Space Telescope, it’s hoped that the future launch of the James Webb Space Telescope will be able to shed more details on these distant cosmic bodies. The larger mirror surface and higher-tech electronics being added to the new telescope are going to be a game changer in viewing distance and clarity.