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Scientists discover new candidate for farthest known galaxy in universe

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galaxy MACS0647-JD
galaxy MACS0647-JD

Space continues to serve as an endless source of discovery and wonder, with scientists recently coming across what they believe could be the farthest known galaxy in our universe. Galaxy MACS0647-JD, as it's officially known, is thought to be an astounding 13.3 billion light-years away. Numbers like that can be difficult to wrap your head around, but for context, the universe itself is said to be 13.7 billion years old, That means the faint red light you see above was observed 420 million years after the big bang. Sure it sounds old, but as NASA says, "it offers a peek back into a time when the universe was 3 percent of its present age.

The discovery was made possible with the help of NASA's Hubble and Spitzer telescopes. Astronomers capitalized on a cosmic zoom lens — a naturally occurring phenomenon that essentially morphs clusters of galaxies into a cosmic telescope. This magnifies objects in space beyond what scientists could normally accomplish with their own tools. "Without the magnification, it would require a Herculean effort to observe this galaxy." Researchers plan to further detail the galaxy in the December 20th issue of The Astrophysical Journal.