astronomy: Very Large Telescope finds faraway galaxy

It appears that astronomers are in a hot race to discover the most distant galaxy in the universe. Just a few weeks ago, astronomers using the Hubble and Keck telescopes announced a record-holder — a galaxy 13 billion light-years away. Now a team of Swiss and French astronomers report in the European research journal Astronomy and Astrophysics that they have smashed that distance record. Using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, the researchers have discovered a galaxy they have named Abell 1835 IR1916, which is located 13.23 billion light-years away. The primeval galaxy is being seen at a time only 470 million years after the big bang, when the universe was barely 3 percent of its current age. The researchers hope the find will tell them more about how galaxies formed.

This news brief appeared in the Discoveries column of the Boston Globe’s Health/Science section on 3/09/2004.
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