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.
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'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 galaxy, named UDFy -38135539, was spotted by the Hubble space telescope last year. Its age has now been confirmed by the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere's Very Large Telescope.
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