Astronomers have discovered a galaxy placed at the largest distance ever calculated between our planet and another galaxy. The newly discovered galaxy was named EGS-zs8-1 and it is 13.1 billion light-years apart from Earth. More details about the discovery can be found in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Researchers used the 10-meter telescope from the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. It was found out after the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes identified its distinct colors. Astronomers also observed that EGS-zs8-1 is still forming stars nearly 80 times faster than our Milky Way galaxy. That is why this galaxy is one of the biggest and brightest objects in the early universe.
The lead author of the study, Pascal Oesch of the University of Yale said that Hubble enables them to see many sources which are most likely farther away, but now the researchers cannot measure the exact distance.
The light from the galaxy traveled at a distance of 13.1 billion light-years this means that the scientists see EGS-zs8-1 as it was 131.1 billion year ago when the universe was only 670 million years old. Astronomers estimate that the galaxy is between 100 million and 300 million years old, but according to Oesch it is difficult to tell how old EGS-zs8-1 is in comparison with other galaxies which are at a similar distance from Earth. However it is quite clear that it is one of the oldest galaxies which were ever measured.
Co-author of the study, Rychard Bouwens of the Leiden Observatory (Netherlands), said that in the case of early galaxies such as EGS-zs8-1 stars were the main factor which contributed to the transition of the hydrogen from neutral state to an ionized state. This process is called reionization. The strange colors of the early galaxies were generated by the quick formation of young, massive stars which got in contact with the ancient gas present in these galaxies.
Another co-author of the study, Professor Garth Illingworth of the University of California (Santa Cruz) said that in recent years one of the most remarkable discoveries from Spitzer and Hubble is the existence of an unexpected number of huge galaxies which were formed at very early times and are also close to the time when the first galaxies appeared. He also added that researchers do not fully understand this phenomenon and are not sure how to these galaxies are linked to the large number of fainter galaxies.
Image Source: Space.com