The Spitzer Space Telescope website will be down on Tuesday July 29th from 9am PDT to 10am PDT for server maintenance. Thank you for your patience.

Download Image

About the Image

About the Object

Color Mapping

Astrometrics

09.19.12

Galaxy Cluster and Gravitational Lens MACS J1149+2223

With the combined power of NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes, as well as a cosmic magnification effect, astronomers have spotted what could be the most distant galaxy ever seen. Light from the primordial galaxy traveled approximately 13.2 billion light-years before reaching NASA's telescopes, shining forth from the so-called cosmic dark ages when the universe was just 3.6 percent of its present age.

Astronomers relied on gravitational lensing to catch sight of the early, distant galaxy. In this phenomenon, predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago, the gravity of foreground objects warps and magnifies the light from background objects.

In this image, the many galaxies of a massive cluster called MACS J1149+2223 dominate the scene. Gravitational lensing by the giant cluster brightened the light from the newfound galaxy, known as MACS 1149-JD, some 15 times (though it is not readily apparent in this view).