Space Telescope Sees Billions of Years Back in Time

Astronomers take a peek through a NASA telescope and see how space was 9 billion years ago


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From PhysOrg.com, astronomers have recently used the Spitzer Space Telescope at NASA to look at and document clusters of galaxies located over 9 billion light-years away. This is the first time these clusters, or any for that matter, have been seen farther than 7 billion light-years away, according to NASA.

To find the clusters, the team carefully sifted through Spitzer infrared pictures and ground-based catalogues; estimated rough distances based on the cluster galaxies’ colors; and verified suspicions using a spectrograph instrument at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

The image to the right was compiled from data taken from the Spitzer Space telescope in infrared to show the distance of the different galaxies. In the article, Dr. Mark Brodwin gives a great “Where’s Waldo?” analogy to explain how the telescope works.

“Spitzer is an excellent instrument for detecting very distant galaxy clusters because they stand out so brightly in the infrared,” said co-investigator Dr. Mark Brodwin, also of JPL. “You can think of these distant galaxy cluster surveys as a game of ‘Where’s Waldo?’ With an optical telescope you can spot ‘Waldo,’ or the distant galaxy clusters, by carefully searching for them amongst a sea of faint galaxies.”

A light-year is the distance it takes light to travel over 1 calendar year which is approximately 5.8 trillion miles” or more specifically and in scientific notation, 5.87849981×1012 miles (9.4605284×1012 kilometers).

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