Could this be the most distant galaxy ever discovered?

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes have recently observed what they believe to be the most distant galaxy ever discovered. Measurements of the faint red glow shown in the image below suggest that the galaxy is around 13.3 billion light-years old, and existed at a time when the Universe was thought to be just 400 million years old. The object, known as MACS0647-JD, is estimated to be only 600 light-years across, which is tiny in comparison to the 150,000 light-year width of our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Given its size and age, the discovery team believes it to be an irregular galaxy in the early stages of formation, and one which will merge with other similar objects to form a much larger galaxy.

Image showing the
Image showing the faint red glow of what may be the most distant galaxy ever discovered.
Credit: NASA (HST/Spitzer)

MACS0647-JD was only discovered due to a physical process known as gravitational lensing, where the light from a very distant object is bent (by gravity) and magnified by a massive cluster of galaxies located between it and us. However, the clue to the new galaxies vast age lies in the redness of the light coming from it. With plenty of evidence to suggest that the Universe is expanding, the light travelling across it becomes stretched out over time, and therefore arrives at a longer, and therefore redder, wavelength. This is an effect known as Redshift.