Oldest galaxy discovered so far in the Universe is 12.91 billion years old

Colour composite image of the Subaru XMM-Newton deep survey field. In the right panel, the red galaxy at the centre of the image is the most distant galaxy, SXDF-NB1006-2, according to the astronomers. Image by NAOJ

Colour composite image of the Subaru XMM-Newton deep survey field. In the right panel, the red galaxy at the centre of the image is the most distant galaxy, SXDF-NB1006-2, according to the astronomers. Image by NAOJ

Using the  Subaru and Keck optical/infrared telescopes on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, a 4,200 metre-high summit which houses the world’s largest observatory for optical, infrared and submillimeter astronomy, a team of Japanese astronomers claim in a recently published paper that they’ve discovered the earliest galaxy found thus far in the known Universe – it is 12.91 billion years old or 12.91 billion light years away.

A light-year is the distance that light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles – don’t multiply this by the estimated distance from above; it might give you headaches.

At the beginning of the year, scientists at Hubble discovered, what they claim was, the oldest galaxy cluster ever found, at 13.1 billion years, while last year a California team using Hubble said they saw a galaxy from 13.2 billion light-years ago. However, neither of the two teams managed to prove their calculations through other methods.

The Japanese claim for the oldest galaxy found thus far, dubbed “SXDF-NB1006-2″, is more “watertight,” according to other corresponding scientists, since it uses methods that everyone can agree on. Current theory holds that the universe was born of an explosion, called the Big Bang, about 13.7 billion years ago. Using top-notch infrared and optical telescopes, astronomers peer right through the early days of the Universe.

The astronomers are also claiming their research has verified that the proportion of neutral hydrogen gas in the 750m-year-old early universe was higher than it is today. Thus, some 200 to 500 million years after the Big Bang, the dense parts of neutral hydrogen clouds contracted under their own gravity, forming the first stars and galaxies.

“These findings help us to understand the nature of the early universe during the ‘cosmic dawn’, when the light of ancient celestial objects and structures appeared from obscurity,” indicated an NAOJ statement.

“The radiation from this first generation of stars started to heat and reionise the hydrogen in nearby space, eventually leading to the reionisation of the entire universe. This was the era of ‘cosmic reionisation,’” said the NAOJ.

The findings will be published in the journal the Astrophysical Journal.

via Silicon Republic

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  • http://broderick.ws/ Broderick

    So, if there is, are ever were an ancient civilization in our universe. There is a good chance it´s “SXDF-NB1006-2″. Lets continue our search there :-)

  • faceplam

    “don’t multiply this by the estimated distance from above; it might give you headaches.”

    This isn’t as clever as you think it is.

  • Indeed Good Fellow

    Thats what I was thinking.

  • Anonymoose

    It’s also the furthest galaxy from us, so it’s probably not the best place to look right now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1195884670 Eric Scott Sembrat

    Exactly. You’ll ideally want to look closer to us, since this galaxy likely has much smaller concentrations of denser elements beyond hydrogen. Closer galaxies have similar distributions of dense elements and similar makeups, whereas these galaxies are the true ‘first-gen’ clumps of objects.

  • Tayken91

    The article makes the common mistake of using the term explosion to describe the Big Bang.  In no way was there some monumental explosion at the beginning of time it was instead the expansion of space itself.  The expansion was very rapid but it is fundamentally different from an explosion, there was nothing to “explode” into.  

  • Anonamouse

    Both 
    SXDF-NB1006-2 and the milky way are the same age. It just looks old because of the speed of light. We are effectively just looking into the past of this galaxy.

  • Alakith

     so in an inconceivable amount of time ago… nothing expanded into something.. that something being more vast than we can possibly comprehend? 

  • http://twitter.com/freeinventions Bill murray

    Its crazy how old things are up there..

    http://www.freeinventions.info/

  • brianmberns

    No. 13.7 billion years ago, an infinitely dense universe came into existence and began to expand. It’s not expanding “into” anything, and it’s age isn’t “inconceivable”. The universe is only about 3x older than Earth.

  • AndrewHrubik

    So riddle me this?

    If the universe is indeed expanding from a dense(r) center that should be approx 14 billion light years in some direction away from us and we are certainly not on the edge of the known universe then this galaxy would essentially be on the opposite side of the universe from us given the age of our solar system?

  • http://www.lesbiansinmysoup.com/ Katy

    Trying to wrap my head around that makes my head hurts. 

    I think it might be tougher to find evidence of life there because 
    a) the distance makes the amount of information we can attain very limited, and 
    b) anything we see happened, um, a while back. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.f.fahey James Freeazabird Fahey

    just how the fuck can any telescope see that far!

  • Frogblink

    There’s plenty of other “life” right here in this galaxy.  We just don’t know it yet.  This is simply a common sense, statistical reality.  A better question is: what is intelligence?  Will we be able to communicate with what we find?   Can we talk to whales and dolphin’s which exist right here on this planet? 

  • Harj khera

    It amazes me that science websites (and science magazines and newspapers, for that matter ) still get confused about how old an object is ( in this case 12.9 billion years ) and how far away the object is. In this case that would be about 45 billion light-years distance, since the (visible) universe has expanded to that distance since the big bang.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/H7QZDI7BLEJYJKR2US62IMAH3E xpez

    Not necessarily since we are talking billions of years…the SXDF-NB1006-2 could have formed 1 million years before the milkyway and still be considerably older yet relatively the same age as the Milkway.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/H7QZDI7BLEJYJKR2US62IMAH3E xpez

    its probably farther that the telescope can detect and in a few years they will find something farther and farther…

  • CrAsh

    We should stop looking for intelligent life on other planets and start looking for it here.

  • CrAsh

    a

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