BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Science/Nature  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 14 April, 2000, 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK
Hubble could smash distance record
Space Telescope Science Institute
The object (marked) has yet to be fully explained
By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse

The Hubble Space Telescope may be about to rip up the record books.

It has picked up a mysterious object that could be much further away from Earth than anything ever seen before.

Currently, astronomers can see about 12 billion light years into the distance. But if the latest Hubble discovery is confirmed, our view of the outer reaches of the Universe will be pushed back even further.

The mysterious object cropped up in a close study of a very deep image of the distant Universe called the Hubble Deep Field North.

Current record holders

Astronomers measure the distance of celestial objects according to their redshift. Because of the expansion of the Universe, the wavelengths of the light from far-off objects are stretched towards the red end of the spectrum.

The greater the redshift, the greater the distance.

The present record holder is a galaxy with a redshift of 6.7 and a quasar with a redshift of 5.8.

Now, according to Bruce Dickinson of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Hubble has found an object that may have a redshift of 12.

He describes his results in a preprint of a research paper that will be published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

Other possibilities

There are several possibilities to account for the observations. The object could be a heavily obscured galaxy, a nearby but strange type of star called a carbon star, or the most distant object in the known Universe.

"It would be very strange to have found a highly obscured galaxy with colours this extreme in one very small area such as the Hubble Deep Field image," Dr Dickinson told PhysicsWeb.

Some early observations of the mysterious object made at the Kitt Peak Observatory in the US suggest that it has a redshift of 12.5. At the moment, astronomers are using the world's largest telescope, the Keck reflector in Hawaii, to get a close-up view of it.

See also:

14 Apr 00 | Science/Nature
19 Feb 00 | Science/Nature
06 Apr 00 | Science/Nature
20 Jan 00 | Science/Nature
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Science/Nature stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Science/Nature stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes