As our own world sinks further into a socio-political shitshow, news from outer space always provides a reassuring glimmer of hope that there’s more intelligent life out there than down here. The latest intergalactic info comes from the newly operating James Webb super space telescope. Having earlier this month brought us dazzling images from a distant slice of the universe called SMACS 0723, showing a cosmic cluster as it was 4.6bn years ago, now, in a study led by Rohan Naidu, a graduate student in astronomy at Harvard University, astronomers have found what they believe to be the most distant galaxy ever observed.
Named GLASS-z13 and located 35 billion light-years away, through the James Webb telescope we are able to observe it, as it was, just 235 million years after the Big Bang – the earliest the human eye has ever seen. While current images basically show a glowing, red blur, scientists hope that further studies can help us learn more about the early days of the universe.
“It is potentially the most distant galaxy ever, but we can’t tell if it is the oldest,” Naidu told Vice. “Specifically, we might be observing it as it was ~300 [million years] after the Big Bang. It could have just formed recently, or could have formed even farther back—we can’t quite tell yet.”
“The most surprising thing is how massive and bright these galaxies have gotten so fast—billion solar galaxies, so early in the Universe, are expected by several leading models of galaxy formations to be rather rare!” Naidu continued. “But our search is showing, perhaps not…”
Read our 2020 interview with Senior Project Scientist, Nobel Laureate and scientist Dr John Mather, a leading figure in creating the James Webb telescope.