NASA telescopes spot faintest galaxy in the Universe

Meet Tayna, she’s pretty old, about 13.8 billion years to be precise, and she is the faintest object ever seen in the early universe.

4th December 2015
NASA telescopes spot faintest galaxy in the Universe © NASA, ESA, and L. Infante (Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile)

Meet Tayna, she’s pretty old, about 13.8 billion years to be precise, and she is the faintest object ever seen in the early universe.

With a name that means ‘first-born’ in Alymara, a South American language, Tayna can just about be seen in a combined image from the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, and although she’s not the furthest-away galaxy detected (that would be the less imaginatively named EGS-zs8-1), she is definitely the oldest, existing 400 million years after the Big Bang. She is also not that big either, being of a similar size to the Large Magellanic Cloud, which is 1/100 times the size of our Milky Way (though putting things into perspective, it still has a diameter of 14,000 light-years).

Speaking about the find, published in The Astrophysical Journal, lead author Leopoldo Infante, from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile said "thanks to this detection, the team has been able to study for the first time the properties of extremely faint objects formed not long after the Big Bang."

Tayna forms part of a discovery that included 22 young galaxies and represents a huge increase in the number of known very distant galaxies.

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