The video: The Hubble Space Telescope recently detected a small galaxy in the outer reaches of the universe that is a stunning 13.2 billion years old, an article in the journal Nature revealed. The dim cluster of stars, which goes by the catchy moniker UDFj-39546284, was born when the universe had existed for only 480 million years, "an era when stars and galaxies were first lighting up the universe," says The New York Times. (Watch a clip about this elderly galaxy, below.) Scientists pinpointed the galaxy using Hubble's infrared-detecting Wide Field Camera, installed in 2009. Over the course of months, they determined that a tiny red smudge was the "most primordial galaxy yet found," 150 million years older than the previous record holder. (More analysis is stilll needed to cement the scientists' claims.)
The reaction: "Hubble's still got it," says Brian Vastag at The Washington Post. Though with the "quickening deep-space race among astronomers to bag and tag ever-older objects," it's only a matter of days before there's a new winner. Never mind Hubble, says Jeffrey Kruger at Time — just wait until we get information "from the long-awaited James Webb space telescope," the Hubble sequel, which is set to debut in 2015. That should really help us understand what was happening in the early days after the Big Bang. Watch a NASA scientist explain the startling discovery:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- This is what happens when Republicans actually enact their radical agenda
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- How I dug myself out of debt — and stayed that way
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
- Will the Higgs Boson destroy the universe in a cosmic death bubble?
- If Scotland leaves the union, is Northern Ireland next?
- The impossible promise at the heart of Scotland's campaign for independence
Subscribe to the Week