Scientists using the Subaru and Keck telescopes in Hawaii said because of the time it has taken the galaxy's light to reach Earth, they are seeing the galaxy as it was less than a billion years after the big bang created the universe.
By 200 million to 500 million years after the universe's birth, clouds of neutral hydrogen cooled enough to begin to condense to form the first stars and the first galaxies.
Since the distant galaxy, dubbed SXDF-NB1006-2, existed around 800 million years after the big bang, it offers a glimpse closer than ever to that critical time, SPACE.com reported.
"The day is not so far off when the mysteries of the dark ages of the universe and the physical properties of the first galaxies will be revealed," Masanori Iye of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan said in a statement.
To observe the distant, faint galaxy 12.91 billion light years away, scientists had to collect light through the telescopes for more than 37 hours, letting more and more light accumulate to see as deeply as possible.
SXDF-NB1006-2 replaces the previous record holder for the farthest galaxy known, GN-108036, which was also discovered by the Subaru telescope.
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