NASA Discovers Farthest Galaxy with Gravitational Lensing Technique

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By Jenalyn Villamarin | November 23, 2012 10:46 AM EST

NASA scientists declared on Monday about their discovery of a galaxy identified as MACS0647-JD. The use of Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes and gravitational lensing technique helped the scientists in locating the most distant galaxy to date.

NASA and the European Space Agency announced in a released statement: "We see the newly discovered galaxy, named MACS0647-JD, as it was 420 million years after the Big Bang that created the Universe 13.7 billion years ago. Its light has travelled 13.3 billion years to reach Earth. The star cluster was observed in its infancy as it looked when the Universe was just three percent of its present age."

Astronomers under the combined American-European CLASH project made use of the orbiting space telescopes and also utilized massive galaxy clusters as cosmic magnifiers to discover the distant galaxies. The gravitational lensing procedure allowed the astronomers to observe the distant galaxies as they zoom, enlarge and brighten up the distant space objects.

The recently discovered galaxy is so small with less than 600 light years across and scientists believe it may still be in the first stages of galaxy formation. "The estimated mass of this baby galaxy is roughly equal to 100 million or a billion suns or 0.1 to 1.0 percent of our Milky Way's stars," NASA's released statement further declared.

Rychard Bouwens of the Netherlands' Leiden University and co-author of the study scheduled to be published in the Astrophysical Journal in December stated: "This latest discovery has outstripped even my expectations of what would be possible with the CLASH program."

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