News & AnalysisAstronomy

Earliest Known Galaxy Formed Stars at a Breakneck Pace

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Science  25 Oct 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6157, pp. 411
DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6157.411

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In the beginning was the big bang; then, hundreds of millions of years later, the universe was full of galaxies. This week, astronomers report taking another step into the unexplored time in between: They have imaged the earliest galaxy yet, dating from just 700 million years after the big bang. The galaxy—one of dozens imaged in a Hubble Space Telescope survey designed to pick up faint, distant galaxies—is aglow with hot, newborn stars, the researchers say, pointing to a rate of star formation that they estimate to be a hundred times that of the modern Milky Way. The find may offer a glimpse of an unexpected period of frenetic star birth in the early universe.