The Faintest Distant Galaxy

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Astronomers have found the faintest galaxy yet seen in the deep, distant reaches of

space, an object whose light has taken 13 billion years to reach us. The tiny galaxy, which existed about 800 million years after the Big Bang created the universe, is among the top 10 most distant objects known. According to astronomers this image is like a baby picture of this galaxy, taken when the universe was only 5 percent of its current age. Studying these very early galaxies is important because it helps understand how galaxies form and grow. Arizona State University astronomer James Rhoads and his colleagues used the IMACS instrument on the Magellan Telescopes at the Carnegie Institution’s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile to image the galaxy. They applied a special filter that restricted the light coming in to the telescope to a narrow range of infrared wavelengths, allowing them to block out all but the most distant, faint objects. As said Arizona State University’s Sangeeta Malhotra they have been using this technique since 1998 thier search for the first galaxies at the edge of the universe. The faint galaxy is designated LAEJ095950.99 021219.1, and has a redshift of 7. Astronomers use redshift to denote distance, because the farther away something is, the more its light has been shifted toward the red range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Scientists have seen only a handful of galaxies with redshifts of 7, and none of those have been as dim the newfound galaxy. According to Sangeeta Malhotra with this search, they have not only found one of the furthest galaxies known, but also the faintest confirmed at that distance.