Astronomers at Arizona State University (ASU) have discovered something more distant than Kim Kardashian’s chances of winning a Nobel Prize in Physics: a galaxy so faint, it’s listed as one of the top ten most distant objects from space. The one thing astronomers can tell from 13 billion light-years away is that they are looking at the galaxy’s baby pictures, back when the universe still had a full head of hair and something to do on Saturday night.
The team, led by James Rhoads, Sangeeta Malhotra, and Pascale Hibon of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at ASU, utilized the Magellan telescopes at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. These telescopes produce extremely clear images, and the team focused in on narrow infrared bandwidths, going step by step through the universe’s photo album by looking for longer, more colorful wavelengths. The technique is a lot like reviewing your hairstyles through the decades, until you finally flip all the way to the baby curls in the beginning.
While this galaxy, affectionately called LAEJ095950.99+021219.1, is the farthest one yet identified, the team plans to continue pushing the boundaries of the technique and technology to learn more about the characteristics of these galaxies and how they morph into the recognizable galaxies we know today.