Telescopes detect tiny, very distant galaxy
May be one of the "building blocks" of present-day galaxies
By Amanda Barnett
(CNN) -- A small, very distant galaxy has been discovered by pairing information from telescopes on the ground and in orbit.
A team of American and European astronomers used images and data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the 10-meter Keck Telescopes in Hawaii to locate what they say they believe is one of the smallest and most distant galaxies known to date.
The scientists used images from the Hubble archive made as Hubble peered through Abell 2218, a cluster of thousands of galaxies.
The cluster acted as a gravitational lens, nature's equivalent of a magnifying glass in space, and allowed scientists to detect a faint galaxy that may be one of the long-sought "building blocks" of present-day galaxies. It's located about 13.4 billion light-years away.
The galaxy's light was magnified more than 30 times by Abell 2218 and split into two "images" by the uneven distribution of matter in the cluster.
The images from Hubble were matched with spectroscopy carried out by one of the ground-based Keck Telescopes in Hawaii.
The newly found galaxy has about 1 million stars, far fewer than a mature galaxy. Researchers say the discovery has profound implications for understanding how and when the first stars and galaxies formed in the universe.
The team has written a research paper on the finding for the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
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