Distant galaxy spotted, from the earliest era of the universe

Feb. 10, 2014 at 3:27 PM

PASADENA, Calif., Feb. 10 (UPI) -- NASA says the Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes have spotted what may be one of the most distant galaxies known, from the earliest era of the universe.

The galaxy, known as Abell2744 Y1, is about 30 times smaller than our Milky Way galaxy and may have formed when the universe was only about 650 million years old, the space agency NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reported.

The universe is estimated 13.8 billion years old.

The discovery comes from NASA's Frontier Fields program, which is pushing the limits of how far back we can see into the distant universe.

In the study of six galaxy clusters, Hubble images of the region are used to spot candidate distant galaxies, and then Spitzer is needed to determine if the galaxies are, in fact, as far as they seem.

If the distance to the newly discovered Abell 2744 galaxy cluster is confirmed, it would make it one of the farthest known, NASA scientists said.

"Just a handful of galaxies at these great distances are known," said Jason Surace of NASA's Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "The Frontier Fields program is already working to find more of these distant, faint galaxies. This is a preview of what's to come."

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