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Astronomers Believe Most Distant Galaxy Spotted

Astronomers believe they have discovered the most distant object in the universe.

Members of a team of astrophysicists at the California Institute of Technology said on Sunday they have spied a tiny galaxy that lies roughly 13 billion light-years from Earth.

The discovery offers a view back into cosmic history when the initial stars and galaxies began to shine. That period marked the end of what cosmologists call the "Dark Ages" and gave us the transparent universe we see today.

Astronomers said they located the faint primeval galaxy using both the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck Telescope in Hawaii.

The astrophysicists said they were further aided by the natural magnification provided by a massive cluster of galaxies called Abell 2218. The cluster deflects the light of the distant galaxy and magnifies it in a process called "gravitational lensing."

The magnification process, which was first proposed by Albert Einstein, produces double images of the galaxy.

The galaxy's discovery was announced at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Seattle. It will appear in an article in the upcoming Astrophysical Journal.

Some information for this report provided by AP.