First launched on April 24, 1990, the Hubble Telescope has been a boon to astronomers for decades now.
And still today, we are learning new things about our universe thanks to Hubble. News today published on phys.org reveals that Hubble has now seen a galaxy that formed around 400 million years after the Big Bang. This is remarkable for showing us the distance Hubble is capable of resolving:
“Our spectroscopic observations reveal the galaxy to be even further away than we had originally thought, right at the distance limit of what Hubble can observe,” explains Gabriel Brammer of the Space Telescope Science Institute and second author of the study.
This puts GN-z11 at a distance that was once thought only to be reachable with the upcoming NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
The galaxy, as we can see it now in the Hubble’s photographs, is tiny compared to the size of our own Milky Way. However, it is also forming stars at a rate about 20 times what our galaxy currently does. What we’re learning from GN-z11 will likely further change our understanding of the universe’s early life:
Marijn Franx, a member of the team from the University of Leiden highlights: “The discovery of GN-z11 was a great surprise to us, as our earlier work had suggested that such bright galaxies should not exist so early in the Universe.” His colleague Ivo Labbe adds: “The discovery of GN-z11 showed us that our knowledge about the early Universe is still very restricted. How GN-z11 was created remains somewhat of a mystery for now. Probably we are seeing the first generations of stars forming around black holes?”