Hubble Shows Oldest Galaxies Ever Seen

Want to see something old? Something really old? Take a gander at this shot, which shows galaxies between 12.9 billion and 13.1 billion years old. For reference, the universe is estimated to be about 13.5 billion to 14 billion years old.

The images here were taken during August 2009 over the course of 4 days and 173,000 total seconds of exposure times. Hubble used the newly installed Wide Field Camera 3, which allows it to see near-infrared wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum. This allowed the telescope to observe light from the very beginnings of the universe.This is because the expansion of the universe distorts the ultraviolet and visible light from these galaxies over the course of their unimaginably long journey, pushing them into near-infrared wavelengths.

These are some of the final images the Hubble will send back, as it's being replaced by the James Webb Telescope in 2014. Which is both sad an exciting, as the Hubble has shown us so much of the universe but the Webb will show us even more. [HubbleSite via io9]

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