back to article In a galaxy far, far, far away ... Farthest ever star system discovered

Astronomers at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii have spotted the farthest galaxy on record – a galaxy 13 billion light-years away that formed 670 million years after the Big Bang. Youngest galaxy yet found I've seen things you people wouldn't believe... (click to enlarge) Several very old galaxies were detected by the …

  1. Camilla Smythe

    Don't call me Shirley!

    "Pic Astronomers at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii say they have spotted the furthest galaxy known to humans – a galaxy 13 billion light years away that formed about 670 million years after the Big Bang."

    "EGS-zs8-1 is unusual among very early galaxies in that it's phenomenally bright for its age. It would have taken about 100 million years to form to the size that we see today, and is producing 80 per cent more stars than our own galaxy is at the moment."

    How many linguine is that and who do I vote for on Thursday?

    Silly me. Don't bother.

    1. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Don't call me Shirley!

      Just concentrate on this galaxy and vote.

    2. MrDamage Silver badge

      How many linguine is that?

      Quick back of the envelope calculation, based on a light year is about 1 trillion kilometers, the distance to that galaxy is;

      64285714285714290 Linguine,


      976244712007810 Double-decker buses


      65082914910452.414 Brontosaurus (Brontosauruses, brontosaurii?)

      And yes, I was bored. Not much else to do seeing SAP has crashed, again.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: How many linguine is that?

        When, oh when, will someone submit the necessary patch to GNU units?

        (I'd do it, but I, uh, left my copy of diff in my other pants.)

  2. Phuq Witt

    Far Out, Man!

    "...13 billion light years away ... and is producing 80 per cent more stars than our own galaxy is at the moment..."

    You mean 13 billion years ago, it was producing 80 per cent more stars than our own galaxy is at the moment?

    I'm not sure whether I'm being pedantic —or just struggling to make sense of the collossal timescales involved.

    1. x 7

      Re: Far Out, Man!

      No you're not being is very confusing when past events are discussed in the present tense.

      "is producing" is clearly incorrectly phrased

      1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Re: Far Out, Man!

        I've fixed it.


        1. x 7

          Re: Far Out, Man!

          fixed it? Thats not on. Now we've nothing to complain about / take the **** out of.....

      2. W3dge

        Re: Far Out, Man!

        Well its not incorrectly phrased, it follows the exact same convention as we use in every day language.

        As we observe it. it is happening right now, just the same as when I observe someone crossing the street, I say that's happening in the present. In actual fact it happened in the past, albeit a few nano seconds prior.

        Its the exact same concept here, except the time factor is scaled up. For all intents and purposes that is happening right now because it is impossible for us to observe it any sooner (speed of light etc etc.)

        That was probably a crap way of saying what I was trying to say, but meh.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Far Out, Man!

          As we observe it. it is happening right now, just the same as when I observe someone crossing the street, I say that's happening in the present. In actual fact it happened in the past, albeit a few nano seconds prior.

          You can argue that it's happening now in every meaningful sense. Nothing1 can travel outside the light cone extending from the origin, so for our purposes, whatever we observe that galaxy doing, it's doing "now".

          A fully pragmatic epistemology discards any notion of simultaneity over large distances. It's simply not useful, except in specific areas of inquiry (such as cosmology and certain questions in astrophysics2). And so a fully pragmatic ontology doesn't need to worry about such a notion either, most of the time.

          That said, in this case, we have introduced some of those special questions where the concept of "now" is relevant. For example, the article talks about characteristics of the universe long ago, and how those might differ from what we observe in our neighborhood now.

          But for the most part, the simple question "was this galaxy producing stars 'then' or 'now'" simply isn't relevant. What it did when its effects were still outside our Hubble volume don't matter to us. "Now" means "now for a given observer".

          1We hope, because we rely on causality for all sorts of stuff.

    2. ZSn

      Re: Far Out, Man!

      Actually that is a bit of a specious comment from them as well - the peak in star formation in our galaxy was about 5 billion years ago (when our sun was formed) it's a lot slower now anyway. I think it was about one star every few hours whereas now it's only a few a year (it's been a while since I did my astrophysics course so some of those figures may be a bit out).

  3. x 7

    "who do I vote for on Thursday?"

    Does the late Screaming Lord Sutch have a devotee in your constituency? If so I think he will really fit your needs.

    1. Chris G

      Personally I would recommend actually voting for Screaming Lord Sutch,on the basis that the only good politician is a dead one.

      Some of his policies were better than many of the people he ran and lost against too.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "Some of his policies were better than many of the people he ran and lost against too."

        If you look back over his old manifestos, it's surprising just how many points were rubbished at the time and then appeared years later in the "conventional" party manifestos. He was a lot cleverer than the media portrayed him.

    2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      How about Lieutenant Commander Bill Boaks?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That image...

    Does nobody else have a problem with that headline image?

  5. Don Casey

    I'm confused

    I used to think I knew something about Physics; I was even a Physics major into my Junior year. Having trouble piecing this together.

    Universe is said to be around 13B years old.

    This galaxy is 13B light-years away.

    Universe is expanding.

    So this galaxy and us have been separating at the speed of light since the Big Bang (see icon)? Yes/no?

    The light we're seeing is 13B years old, where is this galaxy now? Another 13B years away (thus moving TWICE the speed of light)?

    My head hurts.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: I'm confused

      Yes and well, it's not a real problem, really:

      Lost Horizons by G.F.R. Ellis and T. Rothman demands some careful reading though (which I haven't managed yet)

      1. Kristaps
        Thumb Up

        Lost Horizons

        Thanks, some bedtime reading for me!

      2. Don Casey
        Thumb Up

        Re: I'm confused

        Excellent document! Have done a quick peruse, and will read in depth after I get a whisky in my hand.

        Notable point in the summary (and de-confusionizer): things are and have been moving away from us faster than the speed of light.

    2. emmanuel goldstein

      Re: I'm confused

      when we say "the universe", we're referring to the sphere of space we can observe. this so called "observable universe" contains everything from which electromagnetic radiation has had time to reach us.

      the universe is 13.7 billion years old. however, because space itself is expanding, the radius of the observable sphere is about 46 billion light years.

      the further we look, the older the light is - right back to the cosmic microwave background, around 380,000 years after the big bang. we can't see beyond that point because the earlier universe was opaque.

    3. Sweep

      Re: I'm confused

      The universe is c, 13 billion years old. This galaxy was formed relatively close to the beginning of the universe. The light we are seeing now when we look at this galaxy has taken 13 billion years to reach us, which makes it 13 billion light years away...

      The main thing you need to get your head around is that spacetime itself has been expanding for all of those 13 billion years.

      1. emmanuel goldstein

        Re: I'm confused

        this galaxy is 13 billion light years away in time. due to space expanding, it is very much further away in terms of meters

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    " cracked by fusion in early stars into helium, "

    Fusion is the process of sticking things atoms atoms together to make bigger atoms.

    Cracking (in the petroleum industry sense of the word) is the reverse process.

    But it somehow sounds cooler.

  7. Graham Newton

    It's full of galaxies

    I think there is only one star in that image. To the top left.

  8. Christoph

    "hydrogen was the only element in existence, and it was cracked by fusion in early stars into helium"

    Large amounts of Helium were formed in the very early instants of the Big Bang, long before stars appeared.

    "and then into ever more complex elements that make up life today.

    It appears that the young stars in the early galaxies like EGS-zs8-1 were the main drivers for this transition called reionization "

    Reionization was the early stars emitting enough radiation to ionise the neutral hydrogen gas. It's nothing to do with nucleosynthesis.

    1. emmanuel goldstein

      yes, helium and even some lithium was around before stars.

  9. Florida1920
    Thumb Up

    A fair trade

    I'd settle for a few years' delay in lofting the James Webb Space Telescope, if we could fire off the entire U.S. Congress into the Solar System in 2018.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Compared to this awsome majesty

    Man's religion looks even more crappy and tawdry.

    +1 to all Steely-Eyed Missile Men/Women.

  11. Michael Thibault


    By now that neighborhood has probably gone to hipster shit anyway, so who cares?

    1. tony2heads

      Re: ...

      Evidence is that, long long ago the young galaxies were wild places with loads galaxy merging, lots of star formation, with massive young stars running through their lives really quickly and exploding; a bit like the teenage years of the universe

      Now star formation has really quietened down, galaxy mergers are rare; a bit like middle age. A few galaxies (like Messier 82) still have rapid star formation, but they are going through a mid-life crisis; in that case probably started by that nearby attractive spiral of Messier 81.

      ....part of an astrophysics for hipsters course

  12. JamesPond

    Can't be true

    Sorry, this can't be true, according to the Christian bible the universe is only about 6,000 years old, so that galaxy must be an optical illusion, you do know the Hubble space telescope isn't really up there, it's all made up by the NSA, and/or the laws of physics are all tosh :^)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can't be true

      that's Dog Years - aah maybe God Years?

  13. Bunbury

    If you look at the image quickly

    It looks a bit...


    Noodly, to be honest

  14. Stevie


    This is old news.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      The judges would also have accepted "This may have been around for a while, but it's the first I've seen it".

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