Did you ever think that you would see a 12 billion year old object?

  Forum Editor 00:25 09 Jan 2014

I certainly didn't, but here, thanks to the most amazing technology, is a photograph showing a group of such objects.

  hzhzhzhz 00:49 09 Jan 2014

Fantastic. Thanks for the link FE.


  wee eddie 01:03 09 Jan 2014

And I thought you were going to produce a picture of Bruce Forsythe

  mole1944 04:59 09 Jan 2014

Thanks FE, wee eddie you made me smile as I'm going through large amounts of stress at the moment (wife has dementia and I'm sorting out care home) you've lifted my spirits thanks.

  fourm member 08:11 09 Jan 2014

I'm having my annual problem with face pain as a result of sitting for an hour each evening with my mouth wide open in awe at 'Stargazing Live'.

Of course, to answer the FE's question, a creationist would say they never expected to see a 12 billion year old object because the universe is only 6,000 years old.

  Quickbeam 08:27 09 Jan 2014

Diamonds are about the commonest old itmen we routinely see I believe at over a billion years old.

I don't know where that came from, it must be from the depths of forgotten school science knowledge...

  Forum Editor 17:20 09 Jan 2014


Most diamonds are well over 3 billion years old, although the rocks in which they are embedded are much younger; possibly only 50 million years. I say 'most diamonds' because some are younger - they form as a result of meteorite impacts.

Diamonds are embedded in volcanic rocks which are really solidified magma. The diamonds were formed in the earth's mantle, and brought to the surface during periods of intense volcanic activity. The diamond you see sparkling in the jeweller's window was deep in the molten interior of our planet, long before life on earth began.

  Aitchbee 18:41 09 Jan 2014

Do these '2 billion year old objects ' actually still exist, or are they just some phantasmagorically man-made images on a photographic plate of what-used-to-be, 12 billion years ago?

  Aitchbee 18:43 09 Jan 2014

... sorry, 10 billion years have just vanished from my last post ;o[

  fourm member 18:55 09 Jan 2014


They don't still exist (at least not in the form shown in the images) but that doesn't mean the images are man-made.

For all anyone knows, the sun no longer exists. It takes about 8 minutes for the light from the sun to reach the earth. All we know is that it was there 8 minutes ago.

Just move a lot further away and you get to things where the light has taken 12 billion years to reach us.

  Forum Editor 19:48 09 Jan 2014


The objects in the image are galaxies. Our galaxy is the milky way, which is big - a beam of light would take 100,000 years to cross it from side to side, and it contains roughly 200 billion stars. That said, our galaxy is pretty standard by the standards of the known universe - there are billions of other galaxies just like it.

The galaxies in the image are small by comparison - a mere 1000 light years across, but bear in mind that they were then pretty young; only 500 million years old, which is the twinkling of an eye in astronomical time. They were busily creating new stars at around 50 times the rate that the Milky way is doing it now.

By any stretch of the imagination the image is astonishing - we're looking at objects as they were just after the big bang - our solar system didn't even exist then.

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