Hubble telescope sets cosmic distance record

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An international team of astronomers are closing on the first galaxies that formed in the universe after recently measuring and viewing infant galaxy GN-z11.

Researchers used the Hubble Space Telescope to see the bright, infant galaxy as it was 13.4 billion years ago, according to NASA.

“We’ve taken a major step back in time, beyond what we’d ever expected to be able to do with Hubble,” principal investigator Pascal Oesch of Yale University said in a release.

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The GN-z11 galaxy is about 25 times smaller than the Milky Way, the galaxy that includes Earth. However, the newborn galaxy is forming stars at a high rate.

Astronomers measure large distances by determining the “redshift” of a galaxy, according to a release. The greater the redshift, the farther the galaxy.

This measurement could mean that unusual and unexpectedly bright galaxies found earlier in Hubble images are also at extraordinary distances.

"Our spectroscopic observations reveal the galaxy to be even farther away than we had originally thought,” Gabriel Brammer, of the Space Telescope Science Institute and second author of the study, said in a release. “Right at the distance limit of what Hubble can observe.”