Candidate for most distant object in the Universe yet observed

Nov 15, 2012
In this image, astronomers use the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and a cosmic zoom lens to uncover the farthest known galaxy in the universe. This image is a composite taken with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 and the Advanced Camera for Surveys. The observations were taken Oct. 5 and Nov. 29, 2011. Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Postman and D. Coe (Space Telescope Science Institute), and the CLASH team

(Phys.org)—By combining the power of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and one of nature's zoom lenses, astronomers have found what is probably the most distant galaxy yet seen in the Universe. The object offers a peek back into a time when the Universe was only 3 percent of its present age of 13.7 billion years.

We see the newly discovered galaxy, named MACS0647-JD, as it was 420 million years after the Big Bang. Its light has travelled for 13.3 billion years to reach Earth, which corresponds to a of approximately 11.

This is the latest discovery from the Cluster Lensing And Supernova survey with Hubble (CLASH), which uses clusters as cosmic telescopes to magnify distant behind them, an effect called gravitational lensing.

"While one occasionally expects to find an extremely using the tremendous power of gravitational lensing, this latest discovery has outstripped even my expectations of what would be possible with the CLASH program," said Rychard Bouwens (Leiden University, Netherlands), a co-author of the study. "The science output in this regard has been incredible."

Along the way, 8 billion years into its journey, the galaxy's light took a detour along multiple paths around the massive MACS J0647.7+7015. Due to the , the team observed three magnified images of MACS0647-JD with Hubble. The cluster's gravity boosted the light from the faraway galaxy, making the images appear far brighter than they otherwise would, although they still appear as tiny dots in Hubble's portrait.


The newly discovered galaxy, named MACS0647-JD, is very young and only a tiny fraction of the size of our Milky Way. The object is observed 420 million years after the big bang. Video Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

"This cluster does what no manmade telescope can do," said Marc Postman (Space Telescope Science Institute, USA), leader of the CLASH team. "Without the magnification, it would require a Herculean effort to observe this galaxy."

The object is so small it may be in the first stages of , with analysis showing the galaxy is less than 600 light-years across. For comparison the Milky Way is 150 000 light-years across. The estimated mass of this baby galaxy is roughly equal to 100 million or a billion suns, or 0.1 - 1 percent the mass of our Milky Way's stars.

"This object may be one of many building blocks of a galaxy," explained Dan Coe (Space Telescope Science Institute), lead author of the study. "Over the next 13 billion years, it may have dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of merging events with other galaxies and galaxy fragments."

The team spent months systematically ruling out all other alternative explanations for the object's identity before concluding that it is the distance record holder. This was important, as nearby objects (such as red stars, brown dwarfs and old or dusty galaxies) can mimic the appearance of an extremely distant galaxy and must be carefully excluded.

The area around the galaxy was observed by Hubble through 17 filters—spanning near-ultraviolet to near-infrared wavelengths—with the galaxy appearing only in the two reddest filters. This was consistent with a highly redshifted galaxy, but did not fully exclude other possibilities. Images of the galaxy at longer infrared wavelengths taken by Spitzer were more conclusive, however: if the object were intrinsically red, it would appear bright in these images. Instead, the galaxy was barely detected, if at all.

MACS0647-JD may be too far away for any current telescope to confirm the distance with spectroscopy. Nevertheless, all the evidence points towards the fledgling galaxy being the new distance record holder.

The galaxy will almost certainly be a prime target for the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2018, which will be able to conduct spectroscopy to make a definitive measurement of its distance and study its properties in more detail.

Explore further: Can astronomy explain the biblical Star of Bethlehem?

More information: The work will be published in The Astrophysical Journal. Research paper: www.spacetelescope.org/static/… _papers/heic1217.pdf

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jsdarkdestruction
4.1 / 5 (18) Nov 15, 2012
very interesting. i cant wait for jwst to launch to learn more about this and other early galaxies. *waits for tuxford and zephyry and cantdrive/hannes to pollute this thread with their nonsense, probably kevinrtrs too*
VendicarD
Nov 15, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Q-Star
4.2 / 5 (19) Nov 15, 2012
Perhaps they'll pass.

I for one lose sleep at times wishing for the Webb Telescope to get up there and running. If I am amazed at the work done with Hubble et al., (which I certainly am) I will probable be struck speechless when the Webb results start coming in. It's a wonderful era for astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology.
ValeriaT
1.9 / 5 (12) Nov 15, 2012
i cant wait for jwst to launch to learn more about this and other early galaxies..
How young do you mean? Is 13.7 GYears "way too young" for you? I presume, the Big Bang theory will be forced to "go into hospital" soon...;-)
Tuxford
1.2 / 5 (17) Nov 15, 2012
"analysis showing the galaxy is less than 600 light-years across."

Huh???? Sounds like another convenient assumption. Defend the fantasy!
ValeriaT
1.6 / 5 (14) Nov 15, 2012
IMO this galaxy is actually a way larger, because more distant galaxies tend to appear larger in general (contrary to expanding Universe model). Interestingly enough, the Hubble snapped three images of this galaxy at the same moment (picture)
Shinichi D_
3.9 / 5 (11) Nov 15, 2012
"analysis showing the galaxy is less than 600 light-years across."

Huh???? Sounds like another convenient assumption. Defend the fantasy!


You're right. The galaxy is not 600 light years across. You win.
Tuxford
1.3 / 5 (24) Nov 15, 2012
Isn't it telling how @Dark gets immediate 4 5-stars for spewing nonsense (just rubbish out of his talking brain), while others with some insightful contributions that at least challenge thoughtful consideration and the fantasy model get marked down immediately. Too bad there are no Republican voter suppression efforts on phys.org! Idiots abound.
aroc91
1 / 5 (9) Nov 15, 2012
Be the first to know about more leftist abuses on college campuses. Sign up here.

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Do your job, moderators.
Telekinetic
2.3 / 5 (12) Nov 15, 2012
Be the first to know about more leftist abuses on college campuses. Sign up here.

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Do your job, moderators.

Yeah, do your job, moderators, and banish one sock puppeteer going by aroc91, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters1,2,&3, orac, Karl Kognition, and RebelofMars.
Caliban
3 / 5 (8) Nov 16, 2012
Be the first to know about more leftist abuses on college campuses. Sign up here.

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HAHAHAHAHA!

Good hunting, Vendicar--and I thought that PHYSorg was overburdened by out-of-their-depth, delusional, brainwashed morons...that site was VIRTUALLY UNDILUTED STUPIDIOSITY.

Maybe I'll revisit it later for a bit of good, clean fun...

verkle
1.3 / 5 (12) Nov 16, 2012
The article states that this galaxy may be less than 600 light-years across. That means its volume is about one sixteen millionth of the Milky Way. And if you let its mass be on the low end at "0.1% of the Milky Way", that means that it is 16,000 times more massive than the Milky Way.

How can this be possible for such a young galaxy?

verkle
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 16, 2012
Let me correct myself. According to the calculations, it would mean that it is 16,000 times more "dense" (not "massive") than the Milky Way.
rubberman
3.7 / 5 (6) Nov 16, 2012
Isn't it telling how @Dark gets immediate 4 5-stars for spewing nonsense (just rubbish out of his talking brain), while others with some insightful contributions that at least challenge thoughtful consideration and the fantasy model get marked down immediately. Too bad there are no Republican voter suppression efforts on phys.org! Idiots abound.

"analysis showing the galaxy is less than 600 light-years across."

Huh???? Sounds like another convenient assumption. Defend the fantasy!


This is insightful?
GSwift7
2.3 / 5 (6) Nov 16, 2012
deleted
GSwift7
3.5 / 5 (8) Nov 16, 2012
Let me correct myself. According to the calculations, it would mean that it is 16,000 times more "dense" (not "massive") than the Milky Way.


That's not right.

Milky Way is 100k x 100k x 1k ly. That is 1x10^13 cubic ly. Its mass is about 5.8 x 10^11. That's about .058 solar masses/cubic ly.

The object above is .6k x .6k x .6k ly (spherical). That's 216 million cubic ly. It's mass is about 100 million. That gives about .46 solar masses per cubic ly. That's about 10 times more dense than the milky way overall.

However, the central part of the milky way, and the spiral arms, are locally much more dense than the object above.
GSwift7
3.3 / 5 (7) Nov 16, 2012
Such a tiny galaxy would be black hole by itself. The diameter of event horizon of galaxy of 10E43 kg would be 3 lyrs


That isn't true. You must be assuming a single point location for the entire mass of the galaxy. 600 light years on each side is not a tiny object. If it was a black hole, we wouldn't see it.
yahroon
5 / 5 (3) Nov 16, 2012
I am not a technical student, but if the light we see from this galaxy has been underway for approximately 13 billion lightyears would it's distance by now be not far more than 13 billion lightyears because of the ever expanding universe and stars drifting from each other. How many light years away would be the remains, if any from this galaxy
yahroon
3 / 5 (3) Nov 16, 2012
Couldn't edit my post but had an additional question.
But since the observation is of something near the edge of the beginning, where are we situated ? In the middle, or are we out of the middle to the left and looking right or even to the left and looking left ? The last option would be invalid it seems to me ?
Just some questions of an ignorant fool ;-)
Noumenon
3.2 / 5 (10) Nov 16, 2012
But since the observation is of something near the edge of the beginning, where are we situated ? In the middle, or are we out of the middle to the left and looking right or even to the left and looking left ? The last option would be invalid it seems to me ? Just some questions of an ignorant fool ;-)


The fools are the ones who don't ask questions. As I understand it, there is no edge, no left, right, or center to the universe, as it is, so far as can be determined, homogenous and isotropic. Space and time are expanding along with the universe.

The light is red shifted, so that takes into consideration the expansion of the universe.
krundoloss
5 / 5 (7) Nov 16, 2012
You have to wonder if there is an intelligent race in this discovered galaxy that is looking at our Milky Way through the same lensing effect, and seeing the state of our Galaxy as it was 13 billion years ago. It just amazes me that what we see is light/em radiation from the past, and that what is really there in the Present (if there is such a thing on a cosmic scale), is really a mystery to us. This new galaxy could no longer exist anymore, or could have drifted to a far off location, and all we see is some 13 billion yr old light waves.
Noumenon
2.8 / 5 (9) Nov 16, 2012
Or we could be seeing our own galaxy in its infancy,.... j/k :).
aroc91
3 / 5 (2) Nov 16, 2012
Be the first to know about more leftist abuses on college campuses. Sign up here.

http://www.campus...?ID=4501


Do your job, moderators.

Yeah, do your job, moderators, and banish one sock puppeteer going by aroc91, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters1,2,&3, orac, Karl Kognition, and RebelofMars.


I shouldn't even dignify this with a response. I DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU. I disagreed with you ONCE and you started claiming I was following you around, wasting my time downvoting your posts. It's funny, considering that I'd completely forgot about you until today.
Telekinetic
1 / 5 (6) Nov 17, 2012
I see you're still wasting your time-

November 15, 2012, 9:10 pm 3.3 Caliban | verkle | Gawad | aroc91 | lite | randybeemen | Shinobiwan Kenobi |
Telekinetic
1 / 5 (5) Nov 17, 2012
Oh, and randybeemen? That's rich, aroc91. Look, it's over. You've been exposed. Time for you to pack up and leave. Now go!
aroc91
1 / 5 (1) Nov 17, 2012
You have no idea what you're talking about. I told you a long time ago to get in contact with phys.org support to confirm, but you're so fervently stuck in your ways that logic escapes you.
Digi
3 / 5 (2) Nov 17, 2012
Oh, and randybeemen? That's rich, aroc91. Look, it's over. You've been exposed. Time for you to pack up and leave. Now go!


Is phys.org populated by schizophrenics? I am in two minds about that :)
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.6 / 5 (14) Nov 17, 2012
Oh, and randybeemen? That's rich, aroc91. Look, it's over. You've been exposed. Time for you to pack up and leave. Now go!
aroc has a 4.4. You only have a 3.2. People must like him more than you, all things considered.
Grizzled
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 18, 2012
Since we see this object through the grav.lense, it means that the light we see travelled via different paths. Those paths may have different lengths and hence time to travel them (if the object isn't dead center behind the lense and other assumptions). So.... does it mean that we actually see a superposition of images belonging to some different eras in the life of that object? Given the distances and times involved, the difference could easily amount to tens of millions of years.
yyz
4.2 / 5 (5) Nov 18, 2012
".... does it mean that we actually see a superposition of images belonging to some different eras in the life of that object?"

Typical delay times for gravitationally-lensed galaxies found near massive galaxy clusters are on the order of months (for individual lensing galaxies the typical delay time is days to weeks). Measured delay times in a few known systems are given here: http://ned.ipac.c...ek5.html

(Note that RXJ0911 0551 and Q0957 561 represent delay times measured for galaxy clusters)

Scientist hope to measure delay times for gravitationally-lensed supernovae in systems to constrain the value of the Hubble constant and to probe dark energy and dark matter: http://www.lsst.o...rkby.pdf
GSwift7
2.6 / 5 (5) Nov 19, 2012
would it's distance by now be not far more than 13 billion lightyears because of the ever expanding universe and stars drifting from each other. How many light years away would be the remains, if any from this galaxy


Most of the expansion happened prior to this time. The expansion since then has been relatively slow. We didn't even detect it until a few decades ago, when our equipment became good enough (Edwin Hubble and the mule keeper at the observatory are given credit for that discovery).

But since the observation is of something near the edge of the beginning, where are we situated ? In the middle, or are we out of the middle to the left and looking right or even to the left and looking left ?


Everywhere is the middle. It's all the same, no matter where you are. Someone standing in the galaxy above today, looking this way, would see the same thing we see looking that way.
GSwift7
3 / 5 (6) Nov 19, 2012
So.... does it mean that we actually see a superposition of images belonging to some different eras in the life of that object? Given the distances and times involved, the difference could easily amount to tens of millions of years


Yes, different travel times, but it isn't that much. You can use pythagorean theorem to get the %. It's very small in this case. The light has been bent around a galaxy cluster which is only a couple million LY accross. The long leg of the triangle is 13 billion LY. A^2 B^2=C^2 then take C-B and that's the difference in years. I came up with about 154 years.

If we take the diameter of the lensing cluster up to 20 million LY, it becomes 15 thousand years time difference between the two images.

In celestial terms, that's nothing.

That's a neat thought though. If we had an event to see between the two, we could get the distance better than ever before.
GSwift7
2 / 5 (4) Nov 19, 2012
lol, sorry YYZ, I see that you already explained the time difference, and using the time difference to check our estimates of red shift and such.

I posted an anwser to his comment before reading farther down the thread, so I didn't see that you had already responded. I actually did the (simplified) math though. :P
Tausch
1 / 5 (2) Nov 19, 2012
If we had an event to see between the two, we could get the distance better than ever before. - GS7

This is the closest I can find to your 'event' idea.
"If we assume that other methods will determine the distance factors more accurately and rapidly, then we can use the time delays to study the evolution of galaxy mass distributions with redshift."
http://ned.ipac.c...ek8.html
For both links,thks, yyz.
LarsKristensen
1 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2012
How much of the light that objects have sent, we have actually observed?

The brightness is decreasing throughout the universe, so there must be very bright objects have sent, we do not observe.

Observed a very small part of all the light an object sends, is it possible to form a good and acceptable komklussion on the object?

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