Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Astronomers Find Most Distant Galaxies Ever

via Livescience, astronomers at Hawaii's Mauna Kea observatory, using a sophisicated technique known as "gravitational lensing" to peer into the distant past, have discovered the earliest known galaxies, formed as early as 500 million years after the Big Bang, 13.2 billion years ago. The technique used to discover these early stars utilizes the gravity of forground stellar objects to "focus" the light coming from the more distant objects.

"The light from the half-dozen faraway star-forming galaxies was boosted about 20 times by the magnifying effect of the foreground galaxy cluster, said team member Dan Stark, a Caltech graduate student. Gravitational lensing is tricky, the researchers admit. To bolster their case, they point to very ancient galaxies that are just slightly closer, yet which already contain old stars."

Pretty amazing stuff.

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