NASA Goddard images announced on Twitter the discovery of a new galaxy. GN-z11 is the farthest galaxy that the Hubble team has spotted.

Researchers discovered the galaxy in the Hubble Space Telescope’s Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS). The survey data includes thousands of galaxies in a wide span of time and GN-z11 is estimated to be 13.4 billion years old.

Astronomers are able to guess the distance of the galaxy by determining how much of its light has shifted into the red spectrum. Credit: NASA, ESA, and P. Oesch (Yale University)

One of the curiosities about GN-z11 is its brightness. Astronomers say that the galaxy is particularly bright. It has 1% of our galaxy’s mass, but it creates stars 20 times faster than our Milky Way. It can be seen in the direction of the famous constellation Ursa Major.

Researchers used imaging from both the Hubble and the Spitzer Space Telescope to discover that the “new” galaxy is 25 times smaller than the Milky Way. There is no much more information on the subject, but detailed findings are going to be published in the March 8, 2016, edition of The Astrophysical Journal.

But how do scientists calculate distances in the universe?

One method is evaluating the red-shift. Basically, all the galaxies project different kinds of radiations which we can pick in the form of light. Light waves are red, the redder they are the farther the galaxy. Using this in a combination of different imagery methods, scientists can tell the age of galaxies in a very accurate way.

NASA, ESA, B. Robertson (University of California, Santa Cruz), A. Feild (STScI)

The findings also greatly affect NASA’s current top project. The Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is a NASA observatory designed to perform wide-field imaging and surveys of the near infrared (NIR) sky. The current design of the mission makes use of an existing 2.4m telescope, which is the same size as the Hubble Space Telescope. It is designed to settle essential questions in the areas of dark energy, exoplanets, and infrared astrophysics.

These are exciting days for astronomy, the Hubble has been in service for 25 years and still delivers results and with the very expected launch of the James Webb Telescope which capabilities greatly exceed those of the Hubble, astronomers are wondering what they will  find the next 50 years.

Source: NASA