Galaxy Cluster Is Farthest From Earth

Scientists have detected a galaxy cluster at a greater distance from Earth than any previously identified heavenly body. JKCS041 is 10.2 billion light-years away, beating the previous record by about a billion light-years, reported The Independent.
Such distances are hard for the human mind to grasp. Put it this way: The cluster is so far away that its light has spent three-quarters of the lifetime of the universe simply to reach our own planet, said the paper.
Its size, too, is literally mind-boggling. JKCS041 contains hundreds of distinct galaxies, said The Independent. Still, it is so far away that it cannot be observed directly through even the most powerful telescopes. Instead, scientists have deduced its location and size by analyzing data obtained at NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory.
"This discovery is exciting because it is like finding a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil that is much older than any other known," Ben Maughan of the University of Bristol, who worked on the analysis, told the paper.
Maughan added that the discovery had numerous implications regarding the origin of the universe, said the paper.
"One fossil might just fit in with our understanding of dinosaurs," Maughan explained. "But if you found many more, you would have to start rethinking how dinosaurs evolved. The same is true for galaxy clusters and our understanding of cosmology."
Meanwhile, the hunt continues for galaxies at extreme distances, said The Independent. Until JKCS041 took the prize, the most distant celestial body known to science was the even more memorably named XMMXCS J2215.9-1738, which was detected by the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton facility in 2006.


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