The Hubble Space Telescope has found the most distant galaxy yet seen, and it’s a doozy. It took 13.4 billion years for the light emitted from the galaxy — named GN-z11 — to reach astronomers on Earth.
That means that GN-z11 existed only 400 million years after the Big Bang occurred, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.
“This discovery pushes back the frontier of our knowledge regarding the earliest phases of the Universe and advances our quest to witness cosmic dawn,” Patrick McCarthy, Interim President of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization, told Mashable via email.
“Clear evidence that stars and galaxies formed soon after the Big Bang will challenge competing theories regarding the formation of the modern universe.”
Scientists had used other measurements to estimate GN-z11’s distance, but this is the first time Hubble’s uniquely capable camera, known as the Wide Field Camera 3, has been able to pinpoint its extreme position by examining the light emitted by the cosmic object.
“We’ve taken a major step back in time, beyond what we’d ever expected to be able to do with Hubble,” Pascal Oesch, one of the authors of a forthcoming study detailing the new galaxy find, said in a statement.