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New Hubble Space Telescope images showcase universe's oldest galaxy

Hubble captures 13-billion-year-old galaxy on film.

By Brooks Hays
New Hubble Space Telescope images showcase universe's oldest galaxy
Abell2744 Y1 (NASA)

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- New "Frontier Fields" images from the Hubble Space Telescope peer farther into the distant universe than ever before. And in doing so, scientists believe they've captured the oldest and most distant galaxy in the universe on film.

The galaxy in question has been named Abell2744 Y1, and scientists believe it is roughly 13 billion light-years away, which means the images scientists are looking at feature starlight that is some 13 billion years old. Scientists at NASA estimate that the galaxy -- which is (or was) about 30 times smaller than our own Milky Way galaxy -- formed when the universe was just 650 million years old, a baby in cosmic time.

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Of course, it's likely that as NASA scientists continue to probe farther and farther into the ancient depths of outer space -- and as even older light makes it's way toward Earth -- Abell2744 Y1 will be outdone. NASA is still confirming the galaxy's exact distance from Earth, so for now, Abell2744 Y1 will have to live with being the unofficial oldest.

"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, 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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[NASA]

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