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back to article Long time ago? Galaxy far, far away? You ain't seen nothing yet

Astronomers have glimpsed the most distant galaxy known to Man: it's an early cluster system more than 13 billion light-years away and was formed barely 700 million years after the Big Bang. Z8_GND_5296 galaxy spitting out stars Z8_GND_5296 galaxy spitting out stars Galaxy Z8_GND_5296 was first spotted using the infrared …

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Anonymous Coward

Turtles all the way down, man. Turtles all the way down.

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Anonymous Coward

Just curious

The article says the galaxy is over 13 billion light years away from us. The BBC article mentions a figure of 30 billion light years away; this prompts two questions:

1) Which article is correct (it cant be that hard to get the story straight)

2) If the BBC is correct then surely that puts the age of the universe at 30 billion years not 13 (ish)

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Re: Just curious

Two cultures separated by a common language perhaps?

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Re: Just curious

The figure of about 14 billion years is the generally accepted age of the universe. The size is a different thing.

I get puzzled by how the expansion of the universe affects the distance and time taken for that light to reach us. Thirteen billion years ago, the light from that galaxy was produced and started a journey outwards from its source. So, we must now be 13 billion light years away from where that galaxy used to be. But that galaxy was moving away from our present location (and everything else) at the time. So, the cold dead embers of that galaxy must be further away than 13 billion light years by now. So how big is the universe?

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Re: Just curious

There is a difference between the distance of the galaxy and the age of the universe. The galaxy is expanding and has done so since the Big Bang - this new galaxy is 13 billion years old but it sounds like it is 30 billion light years away. The Reg has made the classic mistake of equating the age of the universe with the distance of galaxies - they are not always the same. For interest, scientists estimate the size of the visible universe to have a diameter of 93 billion light years - future telescopes such as the James Webb telescope may support this view

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Re: Just curious

Inflation, dear boy.

No, seriously. You would think that the universe cannot be larger than 13 billion light years as light can only have travelled that distance since the start of the universe 13 billion years ago and nothing travels faster than light, right?

However, in the first few nano milli whatsits of its existence, space itself expanded rapidly in a process called inflation before "normal" expansion took over.

As a result the universe is about 90 billion light years across although we can only see 13 billion of it.

At least that's what my Ladybird Guide to Astrophysics says.

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Re: Just curious

Inflation was over in the first second (or thereabouts) - not really relevant here. But note that estimates of the width of the universe apply to the OBSERVABLE universe: if inflation theory is correct, then the observable part is to the entire universe as a pinhead is to a planet.

But suppose that when the universe was 1 billion years old a galaxy was 1 billion light years away from here. Light set out from that galaxy towards 'us' on a journey that should have taken 1 billion years. But space expanded behind the light, pushing the galaxy further away; and space expanded ahead of the light, giving it further to travel. At all times the light travelled THROUGH space at light speed. When it arrives, there are three distances to be distinguished: the distance to the galaxy when the light set out; the distance to the galaxy now; and the distance that the light has actually travelled - ie. for a travel time of around 13 billion years, that's 13b ly.

Space is complicated. Can't be helped.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just curious

many thanks to all who responded.

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Happy

Re: Just curious

"Space is complicated. Can't be helped." Just turn to the bible or similar or creationists, mormons or similar and, voilà, it's not complicated any more.

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Re: Just curious

The BBC article made reference to it being how the galaxy looked 13 billion year ago and that the galaxy would now be 30 billion light years away. For this to be true the we and the galaxy must both be moving at an average speed of at least 1.15 times the speed of light since ever since (probably faster as I doubt we would be moving in the exact opposite direction).

The only way this could not be faulty maths is if Faster Than Light travel is not just possible but our galaxy is currently moving FTL (and by extension we are too).

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Re: Just curious

Nothing is moving IN space faster than light. The space itself is expanding. There is no known limit on the speed of expansion,

(Separately, both galaxies will be moving in space, but their 'local' velocities will be negligible compared to the effects of expansion. They might even be moving towards each other!)

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Wow

I find most galaxy pics almost ho-hum now but this one is indeed a beauty.

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Headmaster

Re: Wow

El Reg forgets to mention that this is an "artist's impression".

Really, at that distance, getting more than a reddish blob would demand a few thousand km² of telescope.

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Re: Wow

I'll give a decade's pay to use that few thousand km² of telescope. ;)

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Re: Wow

Sort of looks like a Frog

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Re: Wow

Sigh. Did I not say "pic" and not "photo"? I know these can be tweaks or total impressions. This one happens to be very nice looking to me.

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Pint

"An artist's rendition of..."

It's a minor FAIL not to highlight that the first image (the beautiful one) is "An artist's rendition of the newly discovered most distant galaxy z8_GND_5296."

It's another fail that people don't instinctively know that this must be the case. A case of 'not good with numbers.'

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WTF?

Re: "An artist's rendition of..."

Am I missing something? Image processing (to normalise the massive redshift) isn't the same as "artist's rendition". Where did it say that first photo is merely created by some "artist"?

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Re: "An artist's rendition of..." @ Michael Hoffmann

It's on the Texas A&M News and Events page, in the right column, under "Blue Light Special."

http://www.science.tamu.edu/articles/1129

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Pint

Re: "An artist's rendition of..."

"Where did it say...?"

Are you familiar with Google? The galaxy name makes a very unique search string, then click on Google Images for speed of review. Your eye will be drawn to the same image on (for example) CNN where it clearly states that it's an artist rendering. Less than ten seconds.

For those with some common sense, it's mere confirmation. What do you think a galaxy ***on the other side of the freaking Universe*** would look like from here? It's perfectly obvious that it's a sketch of the subject galaxy, considering it's so stupendously far away. Instant reaction "That's got to be a rendering!" is expected, leading to search technique described above.

The public is too easily fooled these days.

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Re: "An artist's rendition of..."

"Where did it say that first photo is merely created by some "artist"?"

It doesn't need to. The image contains numerous cloned elements, especially in the background.

Additionally, the diffraction "starbursts" that occur in photographs of concentrated light sources when using an aperture that isn't perfectly circular are both irregular and inconsistent throughout the image, i.e. different stars in the image have different patterns and orientations of points. Neither of these would be expected in a real photograph. You do occasionally see images with differently oriented "starbursts", but only because two images have been stitched together, and then you see no overlap between the differently oriented elements.

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Re: "An artist's rendition of..."

I should clarify that the above applies to conventional refracting optical systems with variable iris type apertures that aren't perfectly circular. Each blade produces two opposed diffraction points, so the number of points in the "starburst" is a function of the number of iris blades.

Hubble Space Telescope, a reflecting telescope with a fixed circular aperture, produces images with a curious four pointed "starburst," and sometimes a circular halo, around strong light sources (example). I suspect this is partly related to the mounting arrangement of the secondary mirror. The pattern can just about be seen in the brighter stars in the background of the image.

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Rol
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What if...

..the medium that exists between the stars and galaxies is to energy, what air is to a moving object?

If the gloop manages to slow light, ALL of our calculations of distance will be over estimated.

Seeing as no one has the slightest idea what Voyager is traversing through at this moment, I can speculate with the rest of the boffins and tell you the universe is no bigger than 14 Billion light years.

Prove me wrong!

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Rol
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Re: What if...

Oh bugger.

Voyager may just give us one more tantalising insight and prove me wrong.

After a few months, if my babbling is correct, Voyager will appear to have speeded up as the time taken for transmissions increases more than expected, otherwise it's back to the day job.

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Happy

Re: What if...

Light will slow down through air too and, of course, much more through water. I could claim the universe is 15.7bn old. prove me wrong, but that is science fiction. Science will agree with me only if they (have the instruments) and can prove it. Science is a journey that started long ago, always happy and capable of change with new evidence. Some people find this difficult to understand as it feels unreliable as it moves forward. Only religion gives you the pleasure of having an answer that does not change although I think those who know the Earth is 5000 years old should now speak about 5049 years or something more exact.

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Rol
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Re: What if...

Sorry, I forgot to mention my thoughts about the gloop that inhabits interstellar space.

Known to many as dark energy and matter, I have convinced myself that this is antimatter, that prefers a quiet life outside of matters influence.

With the opposite properties of normal particles, its anti-gravity acts to retard the progress of light and hence make the universe appear to be far bigger than it is.

Inflation theorists look out.

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Rol
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Re: What if...

Where did you get the idea antimatter hasn't got anti-gravity properties? A team of scientists did show some tentative results in this area recently, but obviously, working with antimatter within the confines of Earth's gravity while keeping the antimatter inside a stable magnetic field has it's limits.

So if you can accept the above, you might also accept a galaxy surrounded by a sea of antimatter would indeed keep it together when it's mass and angular velocity suggest it would fly apart, due to the antimatter pushing back.

And to your last point, that antimatter would clump together, err, no. antimatter avoids contact with everything, even itself. It will be spread more or less evenly throughout interstellar space and hence act as the fabric that keeps matter in its place. If antimatter did indeed behave like matter, then the universe would have just as many antimatter stars, with antimatter elements and planets and we would be able to see these huge bodies, but we don't.

It also explains why the universe seems to be expanding faster as the repulsive force of antigravity is constantly pushing away, instead of the common held theory that the big bang is the only source of impetus.

Obviously, much of what I have said is unproven, but neither has it been disproved and if antimatter is accepted as a feasible force, then several totally unexplained events can be understood without resorting to weird concepts, like inflation theory, dark matter, dark energy et al.

The biggest anomaly comes from the idea, that matter and antimatter wiped each other out at the big bang and what is left is the result of some imbalance that favoured the creation of matter from these annihilation events. Whereas I suggest the big bang was akin to a nuclear explosion, in that 99% of fissionable material gets explosively dispersed and thus doesn't contribute to the event. Add in antimatter's eagerness to avoid contact and run away, and we have a universe with equal amounts of matter and antimatter, again no need for convoluted, unexplainable weirdness, that the scientific community seem unable to stop pulling out of hats when facing the unquestionable failings in their theories.

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Re: What if...

Wasn't it Feynman who pointed out that an anti-particle behaves exactly like its twin, but traveling the opposite direction through time?

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Rol
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Re: What if...

Wow! Many thanks for such a considered reply and my unreserved apology for letting my fervent ignorance loose again.

If the total mass of normal matter in the universe was evenly spread at a particle level across the "known universe" it would come down to a handful of particles per cubic mile, which when we consider this in terms of antimatter, suggests annihilation events would be rare, especially as the antimatter is taking steps to get out of the way and is nimble enough to do so, even so, the event if it did happen would be too small to register on our equipment, it is, after all, only a single, subatomic particle and not a world shattering teaspoonful of the stuff.

So no galactic halo, as the anti-gravity twist to antimatter makes for a non event.

As for well founded experiments showing annihilation events, I would like to point out ALL the data was collected from environments swathed in gigawotsits of magnetic flux, while enduring the unwelcome effects of Earths gravity all the while surrounded by a lab full of matter promising nowhere to run, not the kindest of conditions to assess this animals "natural" behaviour. The Alpha team are attempting to investigate further, but overcoming the obvious obstacles is proving difficult. At least you can agree, an anti Higgs could have some interesting properties.

The big bang was basically, x plus minus x equals zero, yet we are to believe the universe we see is the residue of the total annihilation of everything that came into being, but favouring an outcome where matter is the product, so, x plus minus x isn't quite zero. Hmm?

It would be interesting to run a big bang model, that considered antimatter in the way I have described it, a confirmed bachelor, with serious xenophobic issues, that is travelling outward from a point source along with normal matter. The initial annihilations would fuel the expansion, while antimatter would maintain the outward push by cancelling out matters urge to gravitate back.

Maybe it is time to challenge the standard model as the convoluted theories keeping it relevant have no greater merit than my conjecture, but mine at least have a degree of plausibility.

If this was double entry bookkeeping, the unexplained issues in the model would be held in a suspense account until the source of that issue was addressed, frankly, those responsible for the theories of dark matter, dark energy, inflation and the idea, the laws of physics grew, instead of just was, should all be imprisoned for accounting irregularities, as non of the theories can account for themselves without adding more to the suspense account than was there to begin with.

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Rol
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Re: What if...

I am humbled by your knowledge, but perhaps still unmoved by the theories that fit like a jigsaw piece, but appear to have come from another puzzle.

True, your arguments are difficult to challenge, as they are robustly supported by a wealth of observation, but they are, after all, observations that cannot include the unknown and it is the unknown that perplexes us all.

While my naive grasp at antimatter as the saviour to the model looks ill founded, it still has legs. Experiments are continuing and maybe results could show antimatter has properties that may explain away phenomena that are currently smothered in theories that cannot begin to explain themselves beyond the fact they fit nicely.

I am a firm believer that science will one day explain everything we see, but until we start seeing the unseen we will never truly explain the observable. I place antimatter in that category, a facet of our universe that has escaped observation and thus discounted from our models.

I do have a hope that Voyager might be treading a path through antimatter space, as it is outside the influence of our sun and we are on the edge of the Milky Way. Although the influence of our galaxy will still be dominant I would still expect a low density of antimatter in the void and maybe exerting an influence that can be detected. If so, Voyager fixing it's position and speed using triangulation might show a discrepancy over the next few years, one which could suggest forces unknown are at work, although I guess the power will die before sufficient mileage has passed to show this.

However it is warming to know my theory is no farther to proof than the many that fill text books the world over.

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Re: What if...

Holy freakin' thank you. I have learned a lot and now have renewed faith in the actual science of cosmology.

Also I should read more and watch TV less.

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You may call it Z8_GND_5296

but to me it's home.

- Grynklefyvth III

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FAIL

It is not a 'Big Bang'

It is a 'Big Suck'.

EOM

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well, that settles it. i've got to live forever.

the things we are seeing all come from a patch of the universe, that seen from Earth, is the size of two crossed common pins held at arms length.

what else is there to see?

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Alien

You're all missing the point

All this talk about the size of the Universe or using artist's impressions. WHAT ABOUT THAT 'EFFIN HUGE BORG CUBE IN THE SECOND PICTURE?!!

Judging by the Lorentzian distortion, it could be here in as little as a few million years!!!!

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