VXcientists recently got their first glimpse of the oldest, most distant galaxies in the universe from images sent back from the Hubble Space Telescope. A sensitive IR camera detected the faint glow of galaxies estimated to be 95 percent of the way to the outer rim of the universe -- about 12 billion light-years, or 70 trillion miles, away.
Researchers theorize that this light was emitted only a billion years after the "big bang," the mysterious explosion that may have been responsible for the creation of the universe. Previously, the telescope transmitted images of distant galaxies thought to be 90 percent of the way to the universe's rim. Those pictures were taken with an optical camera in 1995.
NASA's Next Generation Space Telescope, slated for launch in 2007, may lead scientists to an even better understanding of the Earth's origins. It will be equipped with a lens three times as large as the one on Hubble and will be capable of detecting objects 20 to 25 times as faint.