Astronomy’s enduring quest is to go farther, fainter, and more detailed than ever before. Here’s the edge of the cosmic frontier.
Astronomers have always sought to push back the viewable distance frontiers.
More distant galaxies appear fainter, smaller, bluer, and less evolved overall.
Individual planets and stars are only known relatively nearby, as our tools cannot take us farther.
As the 2010s end, here are our presently known most distant astronomical objects.
The farthest type Ia supernova, our most distant “standard candle” for probing the Universe, is SN UDS10Wil, located 17 billion light-years (Gly) away.
The most distant supernova of all, 2012’s superluminous SN 1000+0216, occurred 23 Gly away.
The most distant quasar jet, revealed by GB 1428+4217’s X-rays, is 25.4 Gly distant.
The first discovered object whose light exceeds 13 billion years in age, quasar ULAS J1120+0641, is 28.8 Gly away.
However, quasar ULAS J1342+0928 is even farther at 29.32 Gly: our most distant black hole.
Gamma-ray bursts exceed even that; GRB 090423’s verified light comes from 29.96 Gly away in the distant Universe, while GRB 090429B might’ve been even farther.
Ultra-distant galaxy candidates abound, including SPT0615-JD, MACS0647-JD, and UDFj-39546284, all lacking spectroscopic confirmation.
The most distant galaxy of all is GN-z11, located 32.1 Gly away.
With the 2020s promising revolutionary new observatories, these records may all soon fall.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.Ethan Siegel is the author of Beyond the Galaxy and Treknology. You can pre-order his third book, currently in development: the Encyclopaedia Cosmologica.