how old is it? It must be 13.5 billion years old, give or take 13.5 billion years. It is the oldest galaxy ever seen. It is the GLASS-z13 galaxy. The details are in a paper published in ‘ArXiv’. It was discovered thanks to the Webb telescope, of course.
Its authors are an international team of 25 astronomers captained by Rohan Naidu. He works at the Harvard Center for Astrophysics. They searched for the oldest objects within the data of the Abell 2744 cluster, a swarm of galaxies.
An old photo
The previous record was held by the galaxy GN-Z11, located in the direction of the constellation Ursa Major. It was discovered by Hubble in 2016. It is about 100 million years later than the newly discovered one. “It’s the most distant starlight anyone has ever seen,” Naidu explains.
Observatories are sort of like time machines. The farther objects are from our telescope, the longer it takes for their light to reach us. Most of the stars whose reflection reaches us no longer exist. And what about galaxies? They have already disappeared, or are now very different from what we see.
Anyway, we have your ‘picture’ from 13.5 billion years ago. It will offer many clues about what the Universe was like in the beginning. This galaxy is within the first 300 million years of the Universe.
The galaxy has a diameter of about 4,500 light years. And a mass of about 1 billion stars. “It’s something very surprising and something we don’t understand,” says Naidu. In its “brief” existence, it would be impossible for so many stars to have formed.
Still, the oldest galaxy ever seen is modest compared to our Milky Way. It is about 100,000 light-years across. And it contains approximately 200 billion stars.
Barely a week has passed since the first data were revealed from the telescope, which has had very limited time to make its observations. But already there are unprecedented advances. It has the most detailed image of the Fan Galaxy and lights from 13.5 billion years ago. Undoubtedly, a very promising start.