Using a powerful new camera on the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered what appears to be the most distant object ever observed, a small proto galaxy some 13.2 billion light-years away that dates back to just 480 million years or so after the Big Bang birth of the universe.
The object was found in “deep field” images taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 that combined scores of optical and infrared exposures to capture a cosmic core sample showing nearby and increasingly distant galaxies. Showing up only in infrared light, the proto galaxy appears as a small, blurry smudge at the limits of Hubble’s vision.
But careful analysis indicates it likely is a collection of hot, young stars, a cluster 100 times smaller than Earth’s Milky Way galaxy. Astronomers believe such proto galaxies combined to form the larger, more familiar galaxies seen later in the evolution of the universe.
Honestly, I just wanted to post this picture, because how can you NOT look at it and think we’re alone? Do yourself a favor and read the whole article on CNET, it’s just damn cool.