The Hubble Space telescope first observed an object in 2009 that has been confirmed as the currently most distant object in the universe ever observed and recorded. The Galaxy UDFy-38135539 also known as HUDF.YD3 is the single farthest object in the known Universe to be observed and is so incredibly far away that the light emitting from its some 400 billion stars is barely visible to even the most powerful telescopes.
HUDF.YD3 is so far, in fact, that the starlight reaching the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009 had traveled through space for an estimated thirteen billion years. To think about the sheer volume of this distance we have to take a closer look at the amount of time that would have had to pass for the light to reach from the stars in this galaxy before they reach your eyes.
Radiometric age dating technology has suggested the Earth has been around for some 4.54 billion years since it first was formed. During this time life eventually found itself in one way or another on the planet in the form of microscopic bacteria. As millions of years passed the microscopic bacteria became more complex and some time 200 million years ago the dinosaurs walked the Earth. As time passed eventually they died out and at a snail’s pace eventually humans in their current form developed and flourished on the planet. Even the tiny slice of human history that has taken place since history was first recorded is microscopic in comparison to the age of Earth. And Earth is almost as old as the sun which is estimated to be only 60 million years older than the Earth at 4.6 billion years. And yet the entirety of the Solar System was formed long after the oldest star in the Milky Way Galaxy. The star HE 1523 is said to be 13.7 billion years old. This is almost three times the age of our own sun. And yet when we take into consideration the distance of HUDF.YD3 and its various billions of stars, the light emitting from it has traveled quite a distance.
At a speed of 670,616,629 miles per hour, light travels an estimated 16,094,799,096 miles in a single day. When we take into account the three hundred and sixty five days in a single year we can assume that light will travel 5,874,601,670,040 miles in a single year. Add ten zeroes to that number in miles and you would still come up short on the distance the galaxy’s light has traveled over the course of billions of years in order to reach Earth. The distance is so incredible, in fact, that the galaxy HUDF.YD3 as we observe it now is likely nothing like how it is being observed. It may not even exist anymore after such a long period of time, instead spread out in every direction over billions of lightyears with the entirety of the galaxy’s energy reduced to observable photons in a string moving outward and gradually being absorbed by the passing of cosmic dust or the cones within an observer’s eye.