This morning we'll put the Grist for the Mill, meaning press releases, up top for once. Half-sleepily trolling through news alerts the eyes opened a little bit on seeing an email from the American Astronomical Soc'y calling attention to a Japanese-led observing campaign. It asserts the farthest galaxy ever, so far, some 12.91 billion light years away. In redshift units it gives it as a z of 7.215, and further says that's about 750 million years after the Big Bang. Then the lids rose higher on discovering an independent release from Arizona State University asserting that ITS astronomers have helped find with different telescopes a different distant galaxy that is the FAINTEST yet - at 13 billion light years away or, it says, or about 800 million years after the Big Bang. Those two sets of numbers are contradictory. One cannot expect a galaxy to be seen farther away yet at a more recent time. However, the conflict is there only if one takes the time and distance measures in the ASU release at face value rather than rounded to the nearest impressive figure.
This is slightly amusing. Other perhaps than press officers, few at the institutions involved are likely to feel anything but grateful that multiple galaxies at such early epochs are turning up independently. They are more complementary than competing claims.
These also are incremental gains distinct but not very different from other, previous early-universe galaxies that astronomers have detected. So, no big news. But, alas, those news agency stories on them that I can find and are circulating in public show little initiative in their preparation - the two press releases getting separate play and scant elaboration. This could change - the news does seem the sort of thing that a reporter for a specialty outlet, a UniverseToday or Space.com, might blend and, with the help of a few outside experts as well as folks with the teams involved, succinctly analyze. The fog of the initial era of ionization, post-Big Bang but prior to full-bore galaxy growth in transparent space, appears to be retreating just a bit.
- Subaru Telescope (June 3) Press Release: Discovery of the Most Distant Galaxy in the Cosmic Dawn ;
- ASU (June 1) Press Release: ASU astronomers discover faintest distant galaxy ;
Media Stories on the Subaru report:
- Epoch Times - Belinda McCallum: Most Distant Galaxy in Cosmic Dawn Discovered ; One gets chary on seeing a hed nearly identical to the one on the press release. It appears based entirely on the release, which this story acknowledges, and perhaps on the paper ;
Media Stories on the ASU report:
- Universe Today - Jason Major: Astronomers Take "Baby Picture" of an Incredibly Distant Galaxy ;
- IANS (India) Astronomers spot the faintest ever galaxy ;
- Charlie Petit