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Distant galaxy GN-z11 in GOODS-N image by HST.jpg
GN-z11 superimposed on an image from the GOODS-North survey
Observation data (J2000[1] epoch)
ConstellationUrsa Major[1]
Right ascension 12h 36m 25.46s[1]
Declination+62° 14′ 31.4″[1]
Helio radial velocity295,050 ± 119,917 km/s (183,336 ± 74,513 mi/s)[3]
Mass~1×109[2] M
Size4,000 ± 2,000 ly (1,200 ± 610 pc)[2]
Other designations
GN-z10-1,[2] GNS-JD2[3]
See also: Galaxy, List of galaxies

GN-z11 is a high-redshift galaxy found in the constellation Ursa Major. GN-z11 is currently the oldest and most distant known galaxy in the observable universe.[4] GN-z11 has a spectroscopic redshift of z = 11.09, which corresponds to a proper distance of approximately 32 billion light-years (9.8 billion parsecs).[5][note 1]

The object's name is derived from its location in the GOODS-North field of galaxies and its high cosmological redshift number (GN + z11).[6] GN-z11 is observed as it existed 13.4 billion years ago, just 400 million years after the Big Bang;[2][7][8] as a result, GN-z11's distance is sometimes inappropriately[9] reported as 13.4 billion light years, its light travel distance measurement.[10][11]


The galaxy was identified by a team studying data from the Hubble Space Telescope's Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey (CANDELS) and Spitzer Space Telescope's Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey-North (GOODS-North).[12][13] The research team used Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 to measure the distance to GN-z11 spectroscopically, by splitting the light into its component colors to measure the redshift caused by the expansion of the universe.[14] The findings, which were announced in March 2016, revealed the galaxy to be farther away than originally thought, at the distance limit of what the Hubble Telescope can observe. GN-z11 is around 150 million years older than the previous record-holder EGSY8p7,[6] and is observed (shortly after but) "very close to the end of the so-called Dark Ages of the universe",[14] and (during but) "near the very beginning" of the reionization era.[12]

Compared with the Milky Way galaxy, GN-z11 is ​125 of the size, has 1% of the mass, and was forming new stars approximately twenty times as fast.[14] With a stellar age estimated at 40 million years, it appears the galaxy formed its stars relatively rapidly.[2] The fact that a galaxy so massive existed so soon after the first stars started to form is a challenge to some current theoretical models of the formation of galaxies.[12][14]


  1. ^ At first glance, the distance of 32 billion light-years (9.8 billion parsecs) might seem impossibly far away in a Universe that is only 13.8 billion (short scale) years old, where a light year is the distance light travels in a year, and where nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. However, because of the expansion of the universe, the distance of 2.66 billion light years between GN-z11 and the Milky Way at the time when the light was emitted increased by a factor of (z+1)=12.1 to a distance of 32.2 billion light-years during the 13.4 billion years it has taken the light to reach us. See: Size of the observable universe, Misconceptions about the size of the Observable universe, Measuring distances in expanding space and Ant on a rubber rope.


  1. ^ a b c d "Hubble Team Breaks Cosmic Distance Record - Fast Facts". HubbleSite. March 3, 2016. STScI-2016-07. Archived from the original on July 6, 2016. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Oesch, P. A.; Brammer, G.; van Dokkum, P.; et al. (March 2016). "A Remarkably Luminous Galaxy at z=11.1 Measured with Hubble Space Telescope Grism Spectroscopy". The Astrophysical Journal. 819 (2). 129. arXiv:1603.00461. Bibcode:2016ApJ...819..129O. doi:10.3847/0004-637X/819/2/129.
  3. ^ a b "[BIG2010] GNS-JD2". SIMBAD. Centre de données astronomiques de Strasbourg. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  4. ^ Klotz, Irene (March 3, 2016). "Hubble Spies Most Distant, Oldest Galaxy Ever". Discovery News. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  5. ^ Drake, Nadia (March 3, 2016). "Astronomers Spot Most Distant Galaxy—At Least For Now". National Geographic. No Place Like Home. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Hubble Team Breaks Cosmic Distance Record". NASA. March 3, 2016. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  7. ^ Amos, Jonathan (March 3, 2016). "Hubble sets new cosmic distance record". BBC News. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  8. ^ Griffin, Andrew (4 March 2016). "Most distant object in the universe spotted by Hubble Space Telescope, shattering record for the farthest known galaxy". The Independent. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  9. ^ Wright, Edward L. (August 2, 2013). "Why the Light Travel Time Distance should not be used in Press Releases". University of California, Los Angeles. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  10. ^ Borenstein, Seth (March 3, 2016). "Astronomers Spot Record Distant Galaxy From Early Cosmos". Associated Press. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  11. ^ "GN-z11: Astronomers push Hubble Space Telescope to limits to observe most remote galaxy ever seen". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. March 3, 2016. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  12. ^ a b c "Hubble breaks cosmic distance record". March 3, 2016. heic1604. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  13. ^ "Hubble Team Breaks Cosmic Distance Record". March 3, 2016. STScI-2016-07. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  14. ^ a b c d Shelton, Jim (March 3, 2016). "Shattering the cosmic distance record, once again". Yale University. Retrieved March 4, 2016.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Most distant known astronomical object
Current holder
Preceded by
Most distant known galaxy
Current holder