Friday, January 28, 2011

The Oldest Galaxy In The Universe

The Hubble Space Telescope, the lingering tool of NASA as programs and funding are cut or shut down, has found what might be the oldest galaxy ever encountered. The so-far unnamed galaxy (the Bohunk proposes "Bohunkxia 23) is estimated to have originated when the universe was just 480 million years old, a fresh, doe-eyed age when galaxies were forming at amazing rates. The light of the galaxy has been travelling to earth for about 13.2 billion years now, making it oldest known entity we have yet encountered. This discovery is still unconfirmed, but it should be quite soon and dethrone other galaxies as the oldest around. Before this discovery, the oldest galaxies known were formed around 650 millions years after the Big Bang. The discover still leaves some basic questions unanswered. Why is the universe transparent? With all these elements, especially unbound atoms and neutrinos zooming about, why are even waves invisible or elusive in the light of stars and galaxies? Does the universe hold enough heat and light to burn of this 'mist', or is some other aspect of the universe at work? We don't know everything, we know almost nothing. The universe, my friends, is the greatest mystery.

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