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Space & Astronomy

Oldest, farthest known galaxy identified

By T.K. Randall
January 9, 2021 · Comment icon 10 comments

The galaxy's distance was measured using Hawaii's Keck I telescope. Image Credit: Public Domain
Astronomers have identified a galaxy that is not only the oldest in the known universe, but also the farthest away.
The precise size and age of our universe remain two of the most hotly debated questions in physics, and while it is now believed that the cosmos is approximately 13.77 billion years old, we are still discovering new galaxies in the distant reaches of the universe that challenge, not only where the edge of the observable universe is, but also how soon after the Big Bang galaxies first appeared.

This latest example - a galaxy known as GN-z11 - is the oldest and most distant galaxy found to date and existed at a time when the universe was only a few hundred million years old.

Its distance was recently measured using the Keck I telescope in Hawaii by Professor Nobunari Kashikawa and colleagues from the Department of Astronomy at the University of Tokyo.

"From previous studies, the galaxy GN-z11 seems to be the farthest detectable galaxy from us, at 13.4 billion light years, or 134 nonillion kilometers (that's 134 followed by 30 zeros)," he said.
"But measuring and verifying such a distance is not an easy task."

"We looked at ultraviolet light specifically, as that is the area of the electromagnetic spectrum we expected to find the redshifted chemical signatures."

"The Hubble Space Telescope detected the signature multiple times in the spectrum of GN-z11. However, even the Hubble cannot resolve ultraviolet emission lines to the degree we needed."

"So we turned to a more up-to-date ground-based spectrograph, an instrument to measure emission lines, called MOSFIRE, which is mounted to the Keck I telescope in Hawaii."

Source: University of Tokyo | Comments (10)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Abramelin 2 years ago
Many years ago I read a newspaper article about an interview/ conversation between a famous feminist (Fergusson?) and a male scientist. At some point this feminist told the scientist: "this whole Big Bang thing, it's such an obvious male chauvenistic thing!" The scientist anwered: "Why? You think it all started with a headache instead??"  
Comment icon #2 Posted by Tom1200 2 years ago
One lightyear is 9.46x1015 m.  So 13.4 billion lightyears is 127x1024 m or 127x1021 km or 127 sextillion km. No real scientist would have made such a mistake.  But that's because Professor Kashikawa, like the University of Tokyo, Japan and everything else outside the M25, is made up.  Like in the Truman Show, but in reverse.
Comment icon #3 Posted by pallidin 2 years ago
Interesting subject!!
Comment icon #4 Posted by razman 2 years ago
Kinda odd that they would say its the farthest away from us and the oldest known. If there was a big bang , then you would think that the oldest would be the farthest away from the big bang center. They kinda make it sound like the big bang started here . what if the big bang started closer to that galaxy they talk about ?
Comment icon #5 Posted by Peter B 2 years ago
?? Sorry, what? ETA: As in, it took less than a minute to find the University of Tokyo and Professor Kashikawa. And anyway, there was a story about the galaxy on the Keck Telescope website too.
Comment icon #6 Posted by psyche101 2 years ago
Check again. They didn't make the mistake.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Peter B 2 years ago
No, sorry, you're misunderstanding how we see the universe. The speed of light is incredibly fast at 300,000 kilometres per second, but on the scale of the universe that still means that looking at far distant galaxies means looking far into the past. When you look at the Moon, you see it as it was a little over a second ago, as that's how long it took light from the Moon to reach the Earth. When you look at the Sun (carefully), you see it as it was about 8 minutes ago. When you look at the next nearest star, you see it as it was 4 years ago, meaning it's four light years away. Light takes rou... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by Tom1200 2 years ago
Of course there's references on the internet - that's all part of the conspiracy!  But have you been to Tokyo to check for yourself? The M25 is the edge of the visible Universe.  Japan is outside the M25.  Therefore it does not exist.  QED. Well SOMEONE did.  The OP quotes Professor Kash'n'Karri saying "13.4 billion light years, or 134 nonillion kilometers (that’s 134 followed by 30 zeros)" which is garbage, as I explained in post #4.  He has overstated the distance by a factor of 1000 million.  (That's analogous (in reverse) to measuring the distance from Earth to the Moon as 38.4 cm.)  So if... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by psyche101 2 years ago
  Google is using the wrong "billion" In one lightyear, one trillion is considered as 9.46x1012 m.  9.46 trillion kilometres 15 zeroes is one Quadrillion. Try with 12.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Tom1200 2 years ago
I don't know what it's got to do with Google.  I used a different search method, called education.  Here's the numbers: I think we all agree on this terminology? 1 million is 106         or 1 000 000 1 billion is 109          or 1 000 000 000 1 trillion is 1012        or 1 000 000 000 000 1 quadrillion is 1015  or 1 000 000 000 000 000 1 quintillion is 1018    or 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 1 sextillion is 1021    or 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 1 septillion is 1024    or 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 1 octillion is 1027      or 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 1 nonillion is 1030     ... [More]

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