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Hubble Sees Tribe of Baby Galaxies 13+ Billion Light Years Away

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the pretty-pictures dept.

Space 60

The Bad Astronomer writes "Using Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have spotted seven galaxies that are all over 13 billion light years away... including one that appears to be a record breaker at a staggering 13.3+ billion light years distant. That one is seen as it was only 380 million years after the Big Bang. This observation reaches into the era of the young cosmos when stars were first forming, and allows astronomers to better understand what the Universe was like back then — a time we know very little about."

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What kind of significant deductions... (2)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about 2 years ago | (#42266397)

Can be made from studying a spec in a picture? Distance, light intensity?, anything else?

Re:What kind of significant deductions... (4, Insightful)

kc67 (2789711) | about 2 years ago | (#42266457)

The fact that we can see 13 billion light years away is a feat in itself!

Re:What kind of significant deductions... (4, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#42266469)

Just the fact that they exist can tell us a lot about conditions of the very early universe, there was a time when we though galaxies would take much longer than 300 million years to form. So, any theory about the conditions of the early universe needs to allow for large, complex features such as these galaxies to form. I would think spectroscopy would also be able to tell you the ratios of elements that exist in those early galaxies, though I wouldn't expect any surprises there it's still worth taking a look.

I'm no astronomer; if I can come up with a couple thoughts I'm sure someone in the field would be able to dream up a dozen more.

Re:What kind of significant deductions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42266519)

I suspect they do take much more than 300 million years to form. It's only a matter of time and improved technology before we start finding galaxies at 14 billion light years, 15 billion, 16 billion, more. Then the cosmologists are going to have some real 'splainin to do.

Re:What kind of significant deductions... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42266919)

No problem. In cosmology it's perfectly acceptable to just invent some new theory to explain that away even if that new theory has no basis for existing other than the insistance that the big bang happened exactly 13.75billion years ago.

Re:What kind of significant deductions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42268525)

So you're saying when new evidence is found that disagrees with current theories, they shouldn't invent a new theory that tries to explain it?

Re:What kind of significant deductions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42269561)

Theories aren't meant to be circular. Cosmic inflation theory is valid because it explains the big bang theory and the big bang theory is valid because the cosmic inflation theory patches up the holes in the big bang theory. In the meantime the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate not explained by the above two theories so we'll patch that up with a new theory of dark energy even though that theory has no basis in any known physics other than the other crap cosmologists have come up with.

Re:What kind of significant deductions... (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#42270165)

That's how science is supposed to work.

If they're barking up the wrong tree then at some point the mess of explanations will be crazy enough and someone will be smart enough to provide a simpler and better explanation and the accepted theory will change.

You know, like has happened over and over again in the past. The heliocentric model replacing the geocentric one. Caloric theory replacing phlogiston theory. And so on.

Re:What kind of significant deductions... (1)

Coisiche (2000870) | about 2 years ago | (#42270789)

In replying to that sequence of posts you also forgot to add that slashdot is forever populated by anonymous cowards who *always* know that the current widely accepted theory for *any* scientific discipline is wrong and that whatever arbitrary replacement is eventually dreamed up (I don't think they ever understand what "evidence based" means) for it will also be wrong.

Re:What kind of significant deductions... (1)

atisss (1661313) | about 2 years ago | (#42267307)

It doesn't really matter if it's delayed 10 or 100 years, the difference out there will be insignificant

Re:What kind of significant deductions... (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 2 years ago | (#42269961)

We don't have a lot of photons captured yet from these early galaxies to do spectroscopy on.

Re:What kind of significant deductions... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42266539)

all of the above, and shape (morphology), density of galaxies, etc. the release actually discusses all this. http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2012/48

Note: you can ask at the webinar on friday!

Re:What kind of significant deductions... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42266577)

You can see the frequency shift, frequency distribution, and with the right equipment you can see the chemical composition. From this information you can determine the elemental composition of the early universe. This can be tested to see how the generations of stars evolved. This is important to us because the original universe was mostly hydrogen, a little helium, and tiny amounts of deuterium and lithium. Lithium and deuterium get burned up quick in stars so we don't see much of it in later generations. With the big stars we will see elements up to iron due to nucleosynthesis and eventually elements higher up when supernovas occur. In a very young galaxy (and perhaps this one isn't even young enough), not enough supernovas would have occurred to 'pollute' the stars and space around them. In any case, all of this information taken as a whole gives an independent verification of current theories on how old the universe is, what it was initially made up of, how the physics worked back then, and how all of this evolved over time to allow galaxies like ours that have many elements including ones produced in supernovas (like lead, gold, uranium, etc.).

Re:What kind of significant deductions... (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 2 years ago | (#42269969)

We tell ourselves that our explanations of the Universe are right for reasons this, that and the other. And then without an "oops" we turn the rudder 90 degrees.

Re:What kind of significant deductions... (1)

cyborg_zx (893396) | about 2 years ago | (#42270339)

Let's just say "God made it," and leave it at that then eh?

What is your point exactly? Do you have anything of substance to contribute other than butthurt that people are out there tackling complex problems and you don't like that, strangely enough, determining the nature of the Universe isn't as simple as looking inside your lunchbox?

Re:What kind of significant deductions... (2)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#42266893)

Can be made from studying a spec in a picture? Distance, light intensity?, anything else?

Space doesn't exists without matter/energy [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:What kind of significant deductions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42267575)

What kind of significant deductions can be made from studying a spec in a picture? Distance, light intensity?, anything else?

That objects in a mirror are older than they appear?

Waiting for JWST (5, Interesting)

relikx (1266746) | about 2 years ago | (#42266445)

It's not too surprising that Hubble is hitting the upper reaches of its capabilities but this peering back towards the beginning is nothing short of fascinating. With so many other 'younger' galaxies potentially out there and currently hidden from sight is motivation to keep this research up and get JWST up and running.

Hopefully the James Webb Space Telescope will not get way off track in budget and schedule again (cautiously optimistic), slated for 2018 launch currently but in any case this is another example of the more we find out, the more we realize we don't know.

Re:Waiting for JWST (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 2 years ago | (#42268639)

I wouldn't say the upper reaches of its capabilities, because it is limited by the age of the universe and the speed of light. 13.3 out of an estimated 13.6 Billion is pretty damned capable, and it could possibly be more if they spend more than 100 hours on the same spot.

We have the hugely huge deep field visible light, and now a deep field in IR. Perhaps it would be good to point out the reason for enthusiasm, since IR seems better at seeing back in time, and JWST is tuned for IR. Aside from the larger mirror, of course.

Re:Waiting for JWST (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 2 years ago | (#42269643)

Current theories predict we won't be able to see much father back than 13.3 billion years because of the "cosmic dark ages".

Before decoupling occurs most of the photons in the universe are interacting with electrons and protons in the photon–baryon fluid. The universe is opaque or "foggy" as a result. There is light but not light we could observe through telescopes. The baryonic matter in the universe consisted of ionized plasma, and it only became neutral when it gained free electrons during "recombination," thereby releasing the photons creating the CMB. When the photons were released (or decoupled) the universe became transparent. At this point the only radiation emitted is the 21 cm spin line of neutral hydrogen. There is currently an observational effort underway to detect this faint radiation, as it is in principle an even more powerful tool than the cosmic microwave background for studying the early universe. The Dark Ages are currently thought to have lasted between 150 million to 800 million years after the Big Bang. The recent (October 2010) discovery of UDFy-38135539, the first observed galaxy to have existed during the following reionization epoch, gives us a window into these times. The galaxy earliest in this period observed and thus also the most distant galaxy ever observed is currently on the record of Leiden University's Richard J. Bouwens and Garth D. Illingsworth from UC Observatories/Lick Observatory. They found the galaxy UDFj-39546284 to be at a time some 480 million years after the Big Bang or about halfway through the Cosmic Dark Ages at a distance of about 13.2 billion light-years.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronology_of_the_universe [wikipedia.org]

Pretty cool (2)

codepigeon (1202896) | about 2 years ago | (#42266495)

I love seeing images like these. I wish some clever astronomer or graphics guru would make a 'flip book' type of image (think those old layered plastic anatomy pictures in encyclopedias) where each layer contains the galaxies at a certain distance.

That way you could see the evolution, or a qasi-3d image of what hubble is seeing.

Re:Pretty cool (4, Informative)

DirePickle (796986) | about 2 years ago | (#42267005)

Ask and you shall receive. Hubble Deep Field in 3D [youtube.com]

Re:Pretty cool (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 2 years ago | (#42268763)

How about Natalie Portman eating Hot Grits naked? Wanting to get on this before the offer expires.

And this is why I love science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42266621)

Discoveries like this are always amazing, and bring to mind all kinds of thoughts that just make me want humanity to push harder towards outer space travel (despite the fact that in the current /. poll, I picked 'the human mind')

Just think about it... these galaxies have been around for billions of years longer than ours. That means that any planets kicking around in there are going to have had billions of years longer to evolve than our little blue planet. That may mean nothing at all, and it's still just inanimate rock, or it could mean that whatever processes started the ball rolling on our planet happened there as well, but it's been rolling along for BILLIONS of years longer, evolution doing its thing all the way.

Science man... this is the stuff dreams are made of!

Re:And this is why I love science (4, Insightful)

bmk67 (971394) | about 2 years ago | (#42266735)

Just think about it... these galaxies have been around for billions of years longer than ours. That means that any planets kicking around in there are going to have had billions of years longer to evolve than our little blue planet.

You apparently don't realize that the oldest known star in our galaxy is 13.2 Gy old (implying that our galaxy is at least that old).

Re:And this is why I love science (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#42266897)

yep, and HE1327-2326 is only 4,000 light years away. It is located in Hydra, at RA 13h 30m 06s; Dec. -23 41' 54", and you'll need a substantial telescope and perfect viewing conditions to spot it.

Re:And this is why I love science (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 2 years ago | (#42267509)

If I understaood it correctly, some stars are expected to be older than their galaxies.

LOL. (0)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#42266773)

allows astronomers to better understand what the Universe was like back

And the hubble allows this? I seriously doubt it. All that we have, is an area to look at with our next next gen scope. But little today will see that far back.

Re:LOL. (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#42266987)

And the hubble allows this? I seriously doubt it.

Oh my god, you're right, these pictures must be absolutely useless. Quick, call NASA and tell them to turn off Hubble immediately before any more money is wasted!

All that we have, is an area to look at with our next next gen scope.

So what's different about the next next gen scope that means we won't just be getting a smaller area to look at with the next next next gen scope? Or has it got the "useful scientific information" module that they forgot to put in Hubble?

(my alternative reply to the parent is, "And you are...?")

Time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42266801)

Is 380 million years long enough for galaxies to form after the big bang?

Is that distance right? The universe has expanded (3, Interesting)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#42266913)

astronomers have spotted seven galaxies that are all over 13 billion light years away

Far be it for me to question the Bad Astronomer, but is that right? From the article:

Since the Universe is 13.7 billion years old, this means we are seeing this galaxy as it was only about 380 million years after the Big Bang.

The observable universe is over 90 billion l.y. across (45 billion l.y. radius) because space has expanded since the Big Bang. So aren't these galaxies a lot more than 13.7 billion light years away?

Interestingly the original spacetelescope.org article (second link in the summary) makes absolutely no mention of distance, only of elapsed time.

Re:Is that distance right? The universe has expand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42267093)

short answer, yes

I read this somewhere but its the light from the galaxy that took "x" amount of time to get here, also something about red shift, and maybe cats?

I stick by my first answer

Re:Is that distance right? The universe has expand (1)

mcl630 (1839996) | about 2 years ago | (#42267167)

I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think these galaxies were 13 billion light years away at the time they emitted the light Hubble is seeing. They'd be (much) farther away now.

Re:Is that distance right? The universe has expand (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#42270363)

If that was true, the light would take a lot longer than 13 billion light years to reach us, because space would have expanded so much in the intervening time. They must have been closer than 13bly then, and further than 13bly now.

Re:Is that distance right? The universe has expand (2)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | about 2 years ago | (#42271093)

I have no idea if this is true or not, but when space expands, would the light occupying it stretch out too at the same pace? If that were the case, the expansion of space wouldn't add to the amount of time the light would take to get between two points.

Re:Is that distance right? The universe has expand (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | about 2 years ago | (#42271107)

In fact thinking about it, that would make sense, otherwise the expansion of space would make light in a vacuum appear to travel at speeds other than c which, as I understand it, is an absolute no-no.

Re:Is that distance right? The universe has expand (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#42271189)

The light does stretch out, which (I think) contributes to, but is not solely responsible for, red shift. But, the space through which it has yet to travel will continue to stretch - so travel time is still increased. Of course this is all subject to reference frames and relativity and all other kinds of craziness - as far as the light itself is concerned, no time has passed *head asplode*.

If we were separated (at time of sending) by one light year in a rapidly expanding universe, and I shone a laser at you, and by the time it reached you the distance between us had expanded to two light years, then the light would have travelled (in our reference frame) 1.5 light years and would taken (in our reference frame) 1.5 light years to do so. Note that, I think, we could consider ourselves to be in the same inertial reference frame because it's space which has expanded - we haven't actually accelerated relative to each other.

Also, the expansion of space does make it possible for things to recede at relative velocities greater than c, but it doesn't violate any laws of physics (it also renders such objects forever unreachable).

IAN,ASBAC,AP (I am not, as should be abundantly clear, a physicist)

Re:Is that distance right? The universe has expand (3, Interesting)

alostpacket (1972110) | about 2 years ago | (#42267287)

I dont know that much about it, but I suspect it has to do with comoving distance http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comoving_distance [wikipedia.org]

Re:Is that distance right? The universe has expand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42273751)

THESE galaxies are 13 billion light years away. What you're talking about is the future of these galaxies. These galaxies may not even exist anymore. Impossible to know...

Don't anthropomorphize them (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42267007)

Don't anthropomorphize these galaxies. They hate when you do that. Also, how do we know they are tribal babies? How do we know they aren't European adult galaxies of reduced stature? The summary author is a racist, heightist, ageist, bastard. That's all there is to it.

Re:Don't anthropomorphize them (1)

ZombieThoughts (1735956) | about 2 years ago | (#42276493)

How is this a -1? It's no different than the Monty Python bird joke. I thought everyone loved MP. Mod up. And yes, even though it is an AC.

Margin of error (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | about 2 years ago | (#42267193)

Does anyone know what the margin of error is on this observation?

Within a scale of 13.3 billion years, 380 million could plausibly be within a margin of error...

Re:Margin of error (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42268173)

Margin of error is approximately 13 billion years.

Re:Margin of error (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42268577)

Only if you're a creationist

Re:Margin of error (1)

DrVxD (184537) | about 2 years ago | (#42343995)

If you're a creationist, then you ARE the margin of error.

Tribe of babies? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#42267247)

It is getting totally insane. Seven babies will make a family. Not even a clan. Learn the hierarchy. Individual, couple, family, extended family/clan, tribe, nation, State, Empire.

Re:Tribe of babies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42268803)

That's a remaining, or a beginning of a tribe. Actually we don't know what happened to them since.
More interesting question is how fast are we moving away from the Universe center. Is it really 97% of speed of light? At the time we see the now we were separated maximum 720 million light years. Correct?

Re:Tribe of babies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42269585)

You stopped at empire. That's like a part of Earth. Not even the entire Earth.

These are whole galaxies. In the 13 trillion years since we've seen them, at any "rate," they were much larger than an empire even then. Then as now.

How much further back..... (1)

sauvesean (1806910) | about 2 years ago | (#42268053)

Do we have to see before astronomers question how old the universe really is?

really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42268141)

whatever, I give it a year or two before they start changing the "age of the universe". Also, is there absolutely no other way galaxies can be "reddened"...

Wait a second! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42268159)

If these galaxies are 380 Myo and we're 13.3 billion years away, why did it take almost 13 billion years for the light to reach us, if all galaxies (including our own) were formed from the same Big Bang? Did early matter travel several times faster than light for a good long while after the Big Bang?

Is it more than 13 billion light years? (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 2 years ago | (#42268199)

I thought with that comoving distance thing that these galaxies are more like 35-40 billion light years away.

Better view it while you can (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42268723)

We better view it while we can because if the current inflationary theories are correct, we only have a hundred billion years before these other collections of galaxies move outside our event horizon

How is babby galaksie formed? (0)

IonOtter (629215) | about 2 years ago | (#42269059)

How is babby galaksie formed? How galaksie get pregnant?

Re:How is babby galaksie formed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42270323)

They get pregnant because they are fucking Huge.

some TARDIS chit chat over numbers ungodly (1)

epine (68316) | about 2 years ago | (#42269727)

Astronomer steps out of TARDIS under a bright moon.

Astronomer: Isaac, guess what? First: We've discovered time travel. Second: Our telescopes can now see all the way back to 300 million years since the, uh, beginning of, uh, all that exists. Aren't you impressed?

Isaac: What a stupendous lie and intrigue to greet this fine, rotund moon! Let me process that on its face. First: Light has a velocity finite after all, and either this velocity is slower than I surmised or the creation is larger than I dared conjecture. Second: Either the haste of light exceeds the velocity of leaving from objects so large as the sun might be, or light is impervious to restitution gravitational. Third: God fudged the creation story by seven multiples of both hands to conform with Aramaic notations of quantity. Fourth: This dorky astronomer thing is not just me, but a blight eternal.

Astronomer: Not bad, Isaac. Four out of four, from a suitable reference frame. You're the man.

Isaac: Indeed I am. You suggest light looks different depending on the observer? Only light confuses me so.

Astronomer: Close. Light looks the same. Time and space, they change instead.

Isaac: Oh, don't think I'm so foolish as to try to write down equations such as that. How malicious to taunt me with a puzzle that might [pauses for a moment] perhaps even have a viable geometry. [shakes head violently] Madness! It's my formula for the transmutation of gold you're after, isn't it? You've come back in time to distract me from my rightful legacy! Good day to you, sir.

Astronomer: Gravity makes gold, Isaac. You're thinking too small.

Isaac: If gravity made gold, the stars would capture and keep it.

Astronomer: Gold destroys stars, Isaac.

Isaac: Destroys stars, but not planets? A likely story.

Astronomer: A planet is just a star too small to either ignite or collapse.

Isaac: One nonsense after another. Gravitational collapse is a singularity forbidden. Where does this end?

Astronomer: Shucks, I hate to push you in this direction, but in truth your glassware will answer you at the end of a long road. By this you will know: table salt dissolved in water dissociates into two constituent elements. One of these come from a group of elements with similar properties we in the future term "halides". Halides reacted with argentium create a family of substances some of which exhibit physical change upon capture of light, including forms of light undetected by any eye in the animal world. A modest flux of this invisible light is released in the natural transmutation process that begets lead--which perhaps you know as plumbum. Once you have the seeing emulsion that never blinks, point your prism at the stars, Isaac, and be prepared for some rude surprises.

Isaac: Natural transmutation into plumbum? This is a joke most foul. Pray tell, what regulates this alchemical sacrilege attested as you claim from the unseen by this elixir of salts and metals?

Astronomer: God plays dice, Isaac, with an exceptionally steady hand ... and the patience of a saint.

Isaac: Enough! Enough of your heathen smirks and portly numbers! Antiquity as a blink of the eye in God's creation. What rubbish! Be off with you!

Astronomer: Farewell, then, my good man. May you neither underestimate nor inhale your aqua fortis, cleaver of matter.

Isaac: At last, a sensible word now that the joke has ended.

Astronomer: So long, Isaac, time waits for no man. [Pffft.]

Isaac: [Looks up at sky.] Stars, I see you, with my physical orbs, and from these orbs I shed tears of brine. The smug fellow weaves a deft braid of fact and fancy under a charmed moon. Has God indeed frozen time and bent space to favour your ethereal flux? And yet I can not say it could not be so. Why these folios unforeseen within the book of nature unknown to scripture or by revelation? Why send your faithful and humble servant this man of riddles to mock your immensity with numbers ungodly? Perhaps it is so that the human magnitude is but a puny magnitude against a vastness so arranged that in the grasping our bound recedes.

Re:some TARDIS chit chat over numbers ungodly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42276263)

I applaud your narrative.

apple? (1)

ecbpro (919207) | about 2 years ago | (#42270145)

When will Apple sue them?

"a time we know very little about...." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42271873)

no sh*t, sherlock!

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