Friday, February 15, 2008

New Hubble images reveal galaxy

clipped from www.astronomy.com
NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, with a boost from a natural "zoom lens," have uncovered what may be one of the youngest and brightest galaxies ever seen in the middle of the cosmic "dark ages," just 700 million years after the beginning of our universe.
The new images should offer insights into the formative years of galaxy birth and evolution and yield information on the types of objects that may have contributed to ending the dark ages. The faraway galaxy also is an ideal target for Hubble's successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), scheduled to launch in 2013.
Current theory holds that the dark ages began about 400,000 years after the Big Bang, as matter in the expanding universe cooled and formed clouds of cold hydrogen. These cold clouds pervaded the universe like a thick fog.
At some point during this era, stars and galaxies started to form. Their collective light reheated the foggy, cold hydrogen, ending the dark ages about a billion years after the Big Bang.
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