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A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away... - Windows to the Universe

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An image of the discovered galaxy
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A Long Time Ago in A Galaxy Far, Far Away...
News story originally written on August 1, 1997

A NASA Hubble Space Telescope image revealed the most distant galaxy found in the universe to date. The image the telescope took was of a galaxy cluster located 5 billion light years away. The discovered galaxy is located behind the galaxy cluster 13 billion years away.

The galaxy cluster is called a gravitational lens . It acted as a magnifying glass for scientists to look through. Looking through the galaxy cluster caused the discovered galaxy's image to be brighter and bigger than it would have appeared otherwise.

The newly discovered galaxy is very far away! Measurements show that it is the farthest galaxy ever seen at a distance of 13 billion light-years away. So the light that is reaching us now is actually 13 billion years old. That is how long the light took to travel to Earth.

So what we see occurring in the galaxy actually occurred 13 billion years ago, or a LONG time ago. Scientists hope that this will add to our knowledge of galaxy formation and stars within these galaxies.

The image was taken with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera-2 on January 13, 1996. Many more exciting discoveries are expected from the orbiting telescope.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF