New galaxy found 13.4 billion light-years away

The discovery by the Hubble telescope of a galaxy that is 13.4 billion light years away is an exciting development. This is not only because it is further away than anything we have seen so far but also because it suggests that stars and galaxies were being formed at the very earliest stages of the universe, which is currently calculated as being 13.81 billion years old.

The new galaxy has been given the name of GN-z11. The distance is obtained by measuring the red shift z of the light from the galaxy and that value is z=11.1. The previous record was 13.2 billion light years with z=8.68. The data suggest that this new galaxy, like all newborns, is quite small (about 25 times smaller than our mature Milky Way with about one percent of its mass) but growing fast, forming stars at a rate that is about 20 times faster.

This animation from NASA shows the location of the new galaxy with reference to the constellations we are familiar with.

I am always impressed that we have learned so much about our massive universe that we can even make such an animation. I also wonder what young Earth creationists feel when they see news reports that state matter-of-factly that the universe if much older than 6,000 years.


  1. Mano Singham says


    I knew that creationists had this ‘explanation’. What I was curious about is how they feel when news reports simply assume that the universe in nearly 14 billion years old and don’t bother to even mention their alternative theory. With evolution, there is some recognition in the US at least that there are people who don’t accept it. But with the age of the universe, their existence is completely ignored.

  2. NYC atheist says

    As a former yec I can tell you how I felt.
    Anger and self righteous sadness for those poor godless scientists, so blinded by there own secular worldview that they can’t see the truth. Basically smugness.

  3. StevoR says

    Great discovery and marvellous science at work. Wonder how well it confirms or contradicts our ideas about the very first metal poor generations of super-luminous, super-massive supermassive stars?

    Imagine this galaxy back then with a sky full of stars like Eta Carinae or even more uber superlative beyond superlatives and wonder when and where the first planets emerged and what they were like? Of course, with so little “metal”elements beyond hydrogen, helium and a sprinkle of lithium, they’d have been alien and improbable and to us in the metal polluted downtime cosmos impoverished indeed.

    Oh for a TARDIS!

  4. StevoR says

    Metals in the astronomical sense of the word i.e. elements heavier than helium really!

    I know I hear the groans of the chemists everywhere..

    Imagine though what a world of lithium and helium / hydrogen atmosphere might be like ..

    Stellar nucleosynthesis we owe so much to it not least our planet and ourselves. We are as Sagan said stardust.

  5. Rob Grigjanis says

    mnb0: Table 1 at that link is an interesting combination of cherry-picking, cherry-omitting (e.g. Foucault 1862), and outright lying (e.g. Roemer’s value).

  6. Holms says

    Deep sky shots are the best. Whenever something mid- to far-field crops up, I always go galaxy hunting away from the photographic subject, which is usually the brightest thing in the shot. In the darker, less cluttered regions of the photo you are almost guaranteed to see tiny galaxies lurking, especially if the shot is extragalactic.

  7. Mano Singham says

    NYC atheist @#3,

    Thanks for that insider view. I guess it makes sense for them to dismiss the critics that way.

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