NASA astronomers have captured something that is believed to be the faintest object ever seen in the early universe using the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes keeping an eye on the universe from outer space.
The object has been nicknamed as Tanya, means “first born” in Aymara, a language spoken in the Andes and Altiplano regions of South America. The obscure galaxy remained 13.8 billion years ago, about 400million years after the Big Bang. Finding such galaxies has been a great challenge as their light is so dim. That makes the discovery of early galaxies especially malicious to scientists.
“Thanks to this detection, the team has been able to study for the first time the properties of extremely faint objects formed not long after the Big Bang,” said Leopoldo Infante, astronomer and lead author of a new study in the Astrophysical Journal detailing the galaxy, in a statement.
Scientists compare this object in size to the Large Magnetic Cloud (LMC), a compressed galaxy about 200,000 light-years from the Milky Way. However, Tanya is rapidly making stars at a rate ten times faster than the LMC. Thanks to a natural, magnifying glass for which the space agency was only able to capture this close-up image of Tanya.
“Like a zoom lens on a camera, the cluster’s gravity boosts the light of the distant protogalaxy to make it look 20 times brighter than normal,” said NASA. “The phenomenon is called gravitational lensing and was proposed by Albert Einstein as part of his General Theory of Relativity.”
The discovery recommends that the very early universe is going to be rich in galaxy targets for the James Webb Space Telescope of which NASA plans to launch in 2018. Astronomers believe that the Hubble’s successor will look deeply in the universe, gathering the best data about the embryonic stages of galaxies that formed after the Big Bang.