It’s been announced today that astronomers using NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have discovered a new candidate for the most distant galaxy seen in the universe so far. The new galazy, named; MACS0647-JD, is 13.3 billion light years distance from Earth which puts its formation as only 420 million years after the big bang.
MACS0647-JD sizes up as only 600 light-years wide, making it less than 1% the size of our Milky Way and formed when the universe was only 3% of its current age, so was thus one of the earliest galaxies to emerge around 100 million and 500 million years after the big bang. Our Milky Way Galaxy by comparison is 150,000 light-years in diameter, and our companion dwarf galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, is 14,000 light-years across. MACS0647-JD likely contained between 100 million to a billion suns which represents about 0.1% to 1% the mass of our Milky Way’s stars.
The MACS0647-JD Galaxy is the latest find using the Cluster Lensing and Supernova Survey with Hubble (CLASH) group, which uses massive galaxy clusters as gravitational lenses to magnify the distant galaxies behind them. The technique magnifies the brightness of these galaxies in the Hubble telescope’s images. Specifically, astronomers used the galaxy cluster MACS J0647+7015 to magnify the image of the newly discovered galaxy. This recent snap was taken in the galaxy’s infancy so it’s probable that over the course of the last 13 billion years it has since merged with dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of other galaxies and other galaxy fragments.
So it ain’t a baby no more.