24/10/2013 09:47 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 23:58 GMT

Most Distant Galaxy From Earth Discovered

Nasa has set a new record for the most distant galaxy yet discovered.

The galaxy - named somewhat prosaically "z8_GND_5296" - was spotted using the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

It is located about 30 billion light-years away, which is roughly two-thirds of the radius of our "visible" universe.

The galaxy is pictured (below) as it was about 13.1 billion years ago, since the light from it has taken most of the age of the universe to reach us. Due to universal expansion, it is now located much further away.

z8_gnd_5296 galaxy

Reported in the journal Nature, it is hoped that the discovery will help us understand the nature of the early universe.

The distance from Earth cannot be measured directly, but was established mainly from the colour and other properties of the light as it reached Earth.

It is thought the galaxy was relatively small at the time of the picture - about 2% of the mass of our own galaxy, though it was still producing stars at a furious rate.

Steven Finkelstein from the University of Texas, and lead researcher on the study, told the BBC:

"One very interesting way to learn about the Universe is to study these outliers and that tells us something about what sort of physical processes are dominating galaxy formation and galaxy evolution.

"What was great about this galaxy is not only is it so distant, it is also pretty exceptional."