“Science, however, gives me the feeling of steady progress: I am convinced that theoretical physics is actual philosophy. It has revolutionized fundamental concepts, e.g., about space and time (relativity), about causality (quantum theory), and about substance and matter (atomistics), and it has taught us new methods of thinking (complementarity) which are applicable far beyond physics.” -Max Born

The farther away we look in the Universe, the farther back in time we look as well, since light has a finite speed. But if a galaxy’s light takes a million years to reach you, that galaxy is going to be farther away than a million light years by time that light arrives, because the fabric of the Universe itself is expanding.

Image credit: NASA, ESA, R. Windhorst, S. Cohen, and M. Mechtley (ASU), R. O’Connell (UVa), P. McCarthy (Carnegie Obs), N. Hathi (UC Riverside), R. Ryan (UC Davis), & H. Yan (tOSU).

Image credit: NASA, ESA, R. Windhorst, S. Cohen, and M. Mechtley (ASU), R. O’Connell (UVa), P. McCarthy (Carnegie Obs), N. Hathi (UC Riverside), R. Ryan (UC Davis), & H. Yan (tOSU).

This leads to a puzzling fact of nature: even though the Universe is 13.8 billion years old (since the Big Bang), the most distant galaxies are upwards of 30 billion light years away, with the current record sure to be broken in the coming years.

Image credit: I. Labbé (Leiden University), NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech.

Image credit: I. Labbé (Leiden University), NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech.

Come find out the full story, including how we’ll find the farthest galaxy of all!

Comments

  1. #1 Chris Mannering
    January 21, 2016

    If space is expanding then it’s obviously trivial that since the light left the source space has expanded and so one way of looking at things is that the observed object is 30 billion light years away or whatever.
    There’s always lots of ways of looking at things. But in physics the basic expectation is that we look at things minimally and on physical terms.
    Now, the redshift since Maxwell is known – in terms of physicality – slow time in the source locality from the perspective of the receiving locality.
    This is proven at distant redshift because things like supernova take weeks from start to finish where much closer they take a fraction of the time.
    And that means that physically we are not viewing something 30 billion years away, because we have to adjust small r relativistic for the fact time is slower.
    Now in this era of Einsteinian Relativity it’s really odd to see…what is either equivocation as to what about physical signals we should take seriously and what we should regard metaphorically. Or else it’s a case of something Feynman complained about, which was that scientists were learning all sorts of things with no real personal standard for their own comprehension. And the problem for that, he said, was that understanding was brittle…only being able to understand the physical consequences of something within tightly prescribed contextualization. Offer a different context and too many scientists were nonplussed. He gave many examples.

  2. #2 Wow
    January 21, 2016

    Wall of woomancer bafflegab.

    Can you try it in English, such that sane individuals can comprehend what you’re saying without having to replace words with their less wordy equivalent to find out that all you’ve said is “There is redshift and it shifts light to the red”.

  3. #3 Chris Mannering
    January 21, 2016

    Well, it appears there is a misconception that’s very widespread at the moment that the light that we receive which is obviously fixed at the moment of emission, so obviously means we are seeing it as it was 14 billion years ago, is metaphorical. Well if it is, so is time. And all other physically measurable things. But Wowowowow you know different, and I’m sure the few remaining physicists of a similar calibre to earlier generations will be really devastated to hear the news.

  4. #4 Ragtag Media
    January 21, 2016

    “Can you try it in English”
    Wowzer, would you please take your insults of others post to the dump thread?
    http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2012/09/23/weekend-diversion-you-are-responsible-for-what-you-say/

  5. #5 Wow
    January 22, 2016

    how do you come to that conclusion? Is it not merely you that is confused and then coming up with an excuse that its everyone else not you?

    Why does your inability to express yourself become my problem? Try saying something rather than just babble.

  6. #6 Wow
    January 22, 2016

    If space is expanding then it’s obviously trivial that since the light left the source space has expanded and so one way of looking at things is that the observed object is 30 billion light years away or whatever.

    So what? Nobody is saying otherwise.

    There’s always lots of ways of looking at things. But in physics the basic expectation is that we look at things minimally and on physical terms.

    Tautological. And hence nobody is saying anything different.

    Now, the redshift since Maxwell is known – in terms of physicality – slow time in the source locality from the perspective of the receiving locality.

    There is no “redshift since Maxwell” to be known. And redshift isn’t merely your assertion following either. Definitely in Maxwell’s time, merely moving either one away from the other would be sufficient. Time dilation was neither known nor needed to explain the reality of redshift. Since Einstein, that movement also causes time dilation.

    This is proven at distant redshift because things like supernova take weeks from start to finish where much closer they take a fraction of the time.

    That isn’t the proof.

    And that means that physically we are not viewing something 30 billion years away, because we have to adjust small r relativistic for the fact time is slower

    Wrong. Something observed would be considered 30 billion light years away because in the time it took for light to get from there to here, the universe expanded. Time dilation has nothing to do with it. And as a corollary it has nothing to do with redshift. It isn’t 30 billion light years away because of redshift.

    Now in this era of Einsteinian Relativity it’s really odd to see

    Either the reality never changed and “in this era” has nothing to do with it, or the modifications to newtonian mechanics after Einstein that created the idea of time dilation, in which case your entire previous screed was wrong because there WAS NO TIME DILATION.

    what is either equivocation as to what about physical signals we should take seriously and what we should regard metaphorically

    Meaningless drivel. Presupposition of some cladistic difference when no such difference has yet been demonstrated as necessary or even plausible.

    Or else it’s a case of something Feynman complained about, which was that scientists were learning all sorts of things with no real personal standard for their own comprehension.

    No such alternative arises from the predicate. And is therefore yet ore meaningless babble.

    And the problem for that, he said, was that understanding was brittle…only being able to understand the physical consequences of something within tightly prescribed contextualization.

    Irrelevant to anything said before, therefore meaningless.

    Offer a different context and too many scientists were nonplussed.

    Which you have neither proposed nor indicated their existence was necessary to anything said to date.

    He gave many examples.

    Of which you will mention none.

    Well, it appears there is a misconception that’s very widespread at the moment that the light that we receive which is obviously fixed at the moment of emission,

    Unsubstantiated assertion, poisoning the well, a priori assumption.

    so obviously means we are seeing it as it was 14 billion years ago, is metaphorical

    No such claim is evident, let alone “obvious”. And also, punctuation. Learn it.

    Well if it is, so is time.

    Conclusion does not follow the premise, and premise is unsubstantiated claim.

    And all other physically measurable things.

    Blank assertion, unsubstantiated claim. Meaningless.

    But Wowowowow you know different,

    Poisoning the well. No mention of what “different” means. After all, someone who knows that pi is an irrational number “knows different” from those in a US state who tried to get it mandated to be exactly 3, as claimed in one fantasy novel that is inexplicably popular among a small segment of powerful and connected idiots. That mathematicians know different from these government officials makes no claim as to what that means to the facts of the matter.

    Just as your claim here.

    and I’m sure the few remaining physicists of a similar calibre to earlier generations will be really devastated to hear the news.

    What news? How do you know? And as mentioned above, is meaningless because nothing about what “different” means has been asserted so that its effect on other physicists could be ascertained. Ergo, this is yet more poisoning the well and an argument by assumed popularity and appeal to authority that is not evidenced.

  7. #7 Brian
    January 26, 2016

    Seriously, EVERY SINGLE TIME “Wow” comments, he’s insulting/condescending/arguing with someone…on a PHYSICS BLOG. Never have I come across such a complete fucking loser.

  8. #8 Wow
    January 26, 2016

    EVERY SINGLE TIME you post, its only to trash me and talk shite.

    Do you have ANY self-awareness?

  9. #9 PJ
    Perth, west Oz
    January 27, 2016

    Erm, Brian, did you read the words you just wrote @ #7? Why add to the fray? You have not done yourself any service other than condemnation. You sew more seeds, you end up wearing the fruit when you fall in the patch. You ARE right; this IS a science blog.
    🙂

  10. #10 Wow
    January 27, 2016

    Because of hatred, PJ.

  11. #11 Brian
    January 28, 2016

    Because I come to this website to read scientific articles, and any discussion in the comments section is always derailed by one person (Wow) who is always picking fights with people, as if he’s some kid on Xbox Live. Either cut it out, or put your money where your mouth is. I know your kind from a mile away. You’re a tough guy when you’re anonymous. But if I ask for the smallest bit of information on you (what’s your first name? facebook account), you won’t provide it. You’re an internet tough-guy, also known as, a complete fucking pussy.

  12. #12 Wow
    January 28, 2016

    No, you came here to slag me off, Brian. You’ve done fuck all to produce anything worth reading.

    Ever.

    Why?

    Hate.

  13. #13 PJ
    Perth, west Oz
    January 28, 2016

    We (most) come here to learn something, or to offer further reinforcement of a topic. Most of us try to avoid the friction that occurs from time to time, but put up with it to receive the good bits. If you feel offended by someones negative comments, just ignore, rather than rattle the cage further.
    Like I wrote earlier; you sow it, you grow it, you wear it.
    🙂

  14. #14 Erik
    BC
    January 29, 2016

    We need people like Wow. Keeps the rest of us honest. As long as you don’t take what he says personally then there’s no problem. If you do take it personally then you should get a new mirror.

  15. #15 Wow
    January 30, 2016

    That’s my hope, Erik. Whether anyone should think it worth emulating is another matter, though. Find the stance that you feel able to deal in.

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