Looking way way back into the past

If you are not a regular reader of Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog and the Universe Today blog you should be.

This image (courtesy of the Bad Astronomer Phil Plait) shows an arrow pointing to one of the earliest galaxies ever formed in the universe.

See here for the official press release.

Most people consider the speed of light to be instantly fast. Even our own solar system shows light speed is far from instant. When you look at the moon you are seeing it as it was approximately 1.3 seconds ago. When you look at Saturn through a telescope you are seeing how it was approximately 80 minutes ago. The further you look away into space the further back in time you are seeing.

On the universal scale the distance to the moon and Saturn are nothing. The indicated dot in the above image is 13.1 billion light years away. Meaning the “gleam” from it took 13.1 billion years to reach us. According to all the recent measurements, our universe is around 13.7 billion years old. So that allows us to look back in time to when the universe (and the smudge) was “only” 600 million years old.

Awesome science.


One response to “Looking way way back into the past

  1. just amazed how light is so coherent that it can travel so many billions of years and still show us a picture so clearly of what was there. its amazing that the skies above are not filled with incomprehensible interference patterns

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