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Oldest and most distant object in the universe discovered

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Astronomers have discovered the oldest and most distant object in the universe - a galaxy so far away that its light has taken 13.1 billion years to reach the Earth.

The galaxy, which was spotted by Europe's Very Large Telescope in Chile, is the most remote cluster of stars, gas and dust ever measured.
It is so distant, scientists are observing it when the universe was in its infancy - aged just 600 million years old, or four per cent of its present age.

Dr Nicole Nesvadba of the Institute of Space Astrophysics in Paris said: 'Measuring the most distant galaxy so far is very exciting in itself, but the astrophysical implications of this detection are even more important.

'This is the first time we know for sure that we are looking at one of the galaxies that cleared out the fog which had filled the very early universe.'
Each time astronomers gaze at distant stars, they are looking back in time.

Light from nearby stars takes just a few years to reach the Earth. But light from remote galaxies takes billions of years to travel across the universe.

The College of Cardinals: An anachronism

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I read with some interest -- and amusement -- the news that Pope Benedict had named 24 new Cardinals, including two Americans. (I was not amused, however, by the selection of Raymond Burke, formerly Archbishop of St. Louis, who insulted Catholic women during his tenure and interfered in our political system by denying communion to pro-choice Catholic candidates for office.)

Morning Briefing

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Priest cleared of porn charges sues for defamation

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Fr. Mark Gruber, who is a Benedictine monk and anthropology professor, was suspended from teaching at St. Vincent College, Latrobe, Pa., last year by Archabbott Douglas Nowicki. Bishop Lawrence Brandt suspended Gruber's priestly functions after Nowicki and other St. Vincent officials told the bishop that Gruber had downloaded child pornography on a college computer, according to a lawsuit.

Six months later, an oil disaster still spreads across the Gulf

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Oct. 20 marks the six month anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion that caused the nation's worst environmental disaster.

Reporter Rocky Kistner has been covering the spill and its aftermath on the Natural Resources Defense Council's Web pages. His most recent report is interesting reading about the ongoing impact on people's lives.

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