The Hubble space telescope is tirelessly peering into the universe around us, and a group of researchers recently confirmed that Hubble has set a record for the most distant object seen yet. What's more, the existence of the distant galaxy is raising new questions.
The image taken by the Hubble was actually captured a year ago, but a team from the European Southern Observatory operating the Very Large Telescope (or VLT) array in Chile have determined that that speck in the upper left hand corner of the image above is actually a galaxy 13 billion light years away.
Now, it may not look like much, but with the way light travels the galaxy we're seeing is actually as it was when the universe was only 600 million years old. That makes this something of a monumental find, as that speck is actually the first evidence we have of an emerging young galaxy.
From Pop Sci:
At that point in cosmic history, the universe was not as transparent as it is now. Rather, it was filled with a hydrogen fog that absorbed ultraviolet light from birthing galaxies, creating an opaque fog. This period when the UV light was still clearing that fog is known as the era of reionisation, and it is one reason why it's very hard to see back that far in history. Galaxy UDFy-38135539 is the first confirmed observation of a young galaxy clearing the fog and reaching one of our scientific instruments at a detectable level.
Via Pop Sci