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NASA Hubble spots oldest galaxy yet

That smudge in a photo released by NASA's Hubble telescope earlier this year? According to astronomers, it's a galaxy from 13.1 billion years ago!

This would make it the farthest away and longest ago galaxy ever -- and, consequently, the one with the best chance that Star Wars is happening there right now!

13.1 billion! That's old. What's bizarre is I bet the residents of that galaxy are convinced it's only 6,000 years old. "That's when Dagmar built everything," they tell each other. "With his glort." Still, it's almost three times our age! Earth is only 4.54 billion years old, give or take a few million years.

The other bizarre thing about this is that the only pictures we have of this galaxy are 13.1 billion years old. I assume that it describes these pictures as "recent" on its profile.

Of course, maybe that's not the only picture. Maybe the galaxy has just been untagging all the subsequent pictures because it's gained a lot of mass recently.

This will backfire when we try to set up a coffee date. "The picture showed a fit guy who worked out often," we'll say. "But you look more like a 13.1 billion year-old galaxy!" "Sorry, I keep meaning to work out in the new year," the galaxy will explain. "Is it my fault that one revolution out here is the equivalent of 200 million earth years?"

But maybe the galaxy is better looking now, since graduating from high school, moving to the big city, and figuring out its place in the universe. I can't wait for the Big Bang Reunion -- or, as scientists prefer to call it, the Big Crunch -- when we'll be able to find out!

Still, I hate long-distance relationships. That's the nature of space, but it makes communication so hard. Whenever other galaxies spot us from a million or so lightyears away, they wind up basing all their conversation starters on the assumption that we still have dinosaurs. That's always awkward.

By Alexandra Petri  | October 22, 2010; 2:35 PM ET
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I hate to break it to you, Alexandra, but you should have kept reading the article in your first link, which says:

"By now the galaxy is so ancient it probably doesn't exist"

I thought you would have learned your lesson after writing that column on Gleise 581G and then finding out it didn't exist. Fool me once ... you know the rest.

Then there's the matter of the name: "Lehnert said he and colleagues have called it 'the high red-shift blob'."

Ha ha, you wrote a whole column about a fat, pot-smoking communist smudge on your shift-lock key that doesn't exist!

So what's Sarah Palin been doing lately?

Posted by: divtune | October 22, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

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