Researchers say they’ve discovered a new galaxy, EGS-zs8-1, that’s an incredible 13.1 billion light-years from Earth, or, in other words, really darn far. In fact, it’s the greatest distance ever measured between another galaxy and Earth, and likely one of the first to form in the cosmos following the Big Bang; scientists estimate the universe is around 13.8 billion years old, which means EGS-zs8-1 is thought to be one of the first to stake a claim in space.
There are probably other galaxies at equal, or even farther, distances from Earth, but they’re too faint to observe. EGS-zs8-1, however, is actually one of the brightest objects in the region, so it wasn’t too difficult to spot; it’s just a matter of properly calculating the distance. Seeing as the galaxy is thought to be 13.1 billion light-years from Earth, there’s no telling what it looks like today.
Scientists are able to measure the distance between Earth and other distant objects by observing how quickly they move away from our planet. With EGS-zs8-1, for example, researchers looked at how much light it emitted, and how that light shifted (also known as “redshift”). The greater the redshift, the greater the distance.
If EGS’s distance from Earth wasn’t impressive enough, researchers say they believe the galaxy is forming stars about 80 times faster than the Milky Way, making it roughly 15-percent the mass of the nearby galaxy.
While EGS is the furthest galaxy we’ve measured from Earth yet, the universe is still expanding at a blinding rate, so it’s only a matter of time before we spot something that’s even farther.