News & AnalysisAstronomy

Warped Light Reveals Infant Galaxy on the Brink of the 'Cosmic Dawn'

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  21 Sep 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6101, pp. 1442
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6101.1442

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Astronomers have recently spotted a galaxy dating back to a mere 500 million years after the big bang. The galaxy, some 13.2 billion light-years from Earth, sets a new record for most distant object sighted by astronomers. Such distant, ancient images are technically beyond the reach of existing telescopes. Imaging the infant universe is a primary goal of the James Webb Space Telescope, being built at a cost of $8.7 billion and expected to launch in 2018. Yet astronomers got a sneak preview thanks to gravitational lensing: an effect in which gravity's ability to bend light turns weighty objects such as galaxy clusters into magnifying glasses for sources behind them.