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Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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This is the Faintest and Most Distant Galaxy Ever Detected

Color image of the cluster taken with Hubble Space Telescope (images in three different filters were combined to make an RGB image). In the inset we show three spectra of the multiply imaged systems. They have peaks at the same wavelength, hence showing t

(Photo : BRADAC/HST/W. M. KECK OBSERVATORY) Color image of the cluster taken with Hubble Space Telescope (images in three different filters were combined to make an RGB image). In the inset we show three spectra of the multiply imaged systems. They have peaks at the same wavelength, hence showing that they belong to the same source.

Astronomers detected the faintest and the most distant galaxy ever known, that is located some 13 billion light years away from our planet.

Scientists from the University of California, Davis were able to detect this distant galaxy by using gravitational lensing with the help of the Keck II telescope that is housed in the Mauna Kea Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

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In this new study, scientists detected this cosmic object lurking behind the MACS2129.4-0741 which is apparently a massive galaxy cluster, so big that three images are need to form a composite within the same spectra.

According to lead author of the study, Kuang-Han Huang from UC Davis, direct observations are not possible which is mainly the reason why the team utilized a magnification technique that is caused by gravitational lensing. 

Gravitational lensing is caused by the light originating from a cluster of galaxies pass through a gravitational field of dark matter that "bends" the light travelling towards Earth.

Now, astronomers believe that the existence of this faint object first emerged during the re-ionization epoch, when the infant universe saw its first light from the first generation of stars. During this time, this galaxy first formed during the end of this re-ionization period, where neutral hydrogen gases became energetically charged.

According to astronomer Marc Kassis from the Keck Observatory, the detection of this galaxy is very exciting since the team suggests that this only contains a few stars, at an estimated one percent of the one percent of the entire Milky Way galaxy.

By studying and analyzing the structure and composition of this faint galaxy, astronomers will gain new insight about how the earliest generation of stars came to be and more importantly, to reveal the process behind how stars triggered ionization, that transformed the mass of the universe.

This faintest galaxy was first detected by NASA and ESA's Hubble Space Telescope and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope last year. This new study is published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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