Nine Space Discoveries We've Already Made in 2014

By Laura Dattaro
Published: February 19, 2014

The youngest galaxy we’ve ever seen

This is distant galaxy Abell2744_Y1 as it looked 13 billion years ago. Its light is just reaching us now. (NASA/ESA/J. Lotz, M. Mountain, A. Koekemoer, the HFF Team, STScI/N. Laporte, Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias)

On the very edges of the observable universe, about 13 billion light-years away, is a galaxy named Abell2744_Y1, the most distant galaxy ever observed by humans. Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope announced that they had spied the galaxy, “one of the youngest in the universe,” on Feb. 7, though the use of “oldest” and “youngest” gets kind of tricky when it comes to things so far away.

Because it takes light from Abell2744_Y1 13 billion years to get to Hubble, the telescope is seeing it as it looked 13 billion years ago, just 650 million years after the universe formed. In this sense, the galaxy looks very young to us, but out in the universe, it’s actually quite old.

NEXT: The secrets of life

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