Most distant galaxy discovered

Monday, March 1, 2004 Posted: 10:07 AM EST (1507 GMT)


PARIS, France (AP) -- Pushing back the boundaries of space observation, French and Swiss astronomers say they have detected the farthest galaxy ever seen.

The galaxy, dubbed Abell 1835 IR1916, is 13.23 billion light-years from Earth, France's National Center for Scientific Research said Monday.

That places it further away than another galaxy believed until now to be the farthest known object. That galaxy, far smaller than our own Milky Way, lies roughly 13 billion light-years away. Its discovery was announced in mid-February. (Full story)

Because its glimmer took so long to reach Earth, the new galaxy offers a look back in time to when the universe was just a baby.

"It is as if we are seeing the childhood of the galaxy," said Roser Pello, a member of the team that found it. "It's a galaxy that is starting to form."

The universe, thought to have begun with the Big Bang some 13.7 billion years ago, would have been a mere 470 million years old when the newly observed galaxy formed, the national research center said.

"If we compare the age of the universe to that of a person aged 75, we are facing a baby aged two-and-a-half," the center said in a statement.

The discovery was made using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, with other images also coming from the Hubble Space Telescope and Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, the center said.