Kevan Karanjia, Staff Writer
December 13, 2012 — Despite orbiting the earth for more than 20 years, the Hubble Space Telescope continues to make ground breaking discoveries about the universe.
The latest pictures transmitted from the telescope have scientists in a tizzy after they revealed a previously unseen population of seven primitive galaxies that formed more than 13 billion years ago.
The images show galaxies that existed when the universe was only 380 million years old, a fraction of its current age.
The universe is estimated to be 13.7 billion years old.
"Our study has taken the subject forward in two ways," California Institute of Technology Astronomer Richard Ellis explained in a press release.
"First, we have used Hubble to make longer exposures. The added depth is essential to reliably probe the early period of cosmic history. Second, we have used Hubble's available colour filters very effectively to more precisely measure galaxy distances."
Astronomers are interested in the findings because they show a smooth decline in the number of galaxies looking back in time to about 450 million years after the big bang.
The findings support the idea that the first galaxies didn't form in a sudden burst but gradually assembled their stars. The farther astronomers search into space, the further back in time they are looking.