13.2 billion light years is a long way from home, but researchers working with the Hubble Space Telescope have located a new galaxy that is farther from Earth than any other.
The Hubble Space Telescope has pointed its lens toward the night sky for years, peering out into the abyss of deep space in search of even the faintest traces of light. While brighter galaxies and stars show up in the Hubble’s field of vision clear as day, the most distant and faint galaxies appear as a dull red glow.
According to a report from Forbes, these dull red glowing galaxies are a source of fascination for Hubble researchers as of late. A newly discovered galaxy, EGS8p7, was confirmed to have the highest redshift of any galaxy ever, at a measure of 8.63.
Redshift describes what happens to light as it crosses swathes of the universe that are expanding. The light’s wavelength gets stretched out along with the fabric of the universe, which makes it appear redder in color.
The farther a galaxy is from Earth, the more stretched the wavelengths from its light will be, hence the red hue. The light coming from EGS8p7 is 863 times longer than it was when it left its home galaxy for Earth.
EGS8p7 shattered the record for the farthest known galaxy, but it likely won’t stand for long. Astronomers are nearly positive that there are billions more galaxies that we still can’t observe with the technology we have available. The James Webb Space Telescope is projected to come online in the next three years, which can detect a significantly larger range of wavelengths, allowing it to peer even deeper into space.