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Science & Environment

Hubble Space Telescope Photographs Oldest Galaxy Ever Seen

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Science has taken a big step backwards. And despite the way that sounds, in this instance that's a good thing.

JENNIFER WISEMAN: We are so excited to report the discovery of the most distant galaxy ever detected.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

That's Dr. Jennifer Wiseman, senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope. She says the galaxy Hubble detected was formed a mere 400 million years after the Big Bang.

WISEMAN: First of all, the fact that we can see it at all is amazing. It implies that maybe there are quite a few of these bright galaxies that are already well on their way to becoming large massive objects. That tells us that star formation started vigorously quite early on in the history of the universe.

CORNISH: Hubble's obviously still doing a good job. It's still in fine working order. But NASA's Dr. Wiseman says it will soon have a brother.

WISEMAN: We're also looking forward to the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018. This telescope will be an infrared facility so it will be able to see galaxies even more distant.

MCEVERS: Dr. Jennifer Wiseman of NASA, for whom things are - well, always looking up.

(MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.