List of the most distant astronomical objects

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This article documents the farthest known astronomical objects, and the time periods in which they were so classified.

Apart from relatively nearby galaxies, beyond the Milky Way distances to remote objects are nearly always inferred by measuring the cosmological redshift of their light. By their nature, very distant objects tend to be very faint, and these distance determinations are difficult and subject to errors. An important distinction is whether the distance is determined via spectroscopy or using a photometric redshift technique. The former is generally both more precise and also more reliable, in the sense that photometric redshifts are more prone to being wrong due to confusion with by lower redshift sources that have unusual spectra. For that reason, a spectroscopic redshift is conventionally regarded as being necessary for an object's distance to be considered definitely known, whereas photometrically determined redshifts identify "candidate" very distant sources. Here, this distinction is indicated by a "p" subscript for photometric redshifts.

1 Gly = 1 billion light-years.

Most distant astronomical objects with spectroscopic redshift determinations
Name Redshift
(z)
Light travel distance§
(Gly)
Type Notes
GRB 090423 z=8.2 13.035 Gamma-ray burst [1][2]
z8 GND 5296 z=7.51 13.02 Galaxy Confirmed Galaxy[3][4]
SXDF-NB1006-2 z=7.215 12.91 Galaxy Galaxy[5][6]
GN-108036 z=7.213 12.91 Galaxy Galaxy[6][7]
BDF-3299 z=7.109 12.9 Galaxy [8]
ULAS J1120+0641 z=7.085 12.9[9] Quasar [10]
A1703 zD6 z=7.045 12.89 Galaxy [6]
BDF-521 z=7.008 12.89 Galaxy [8]
IOK-1 z=6.964 12.88 Galaxy [6]
LAE J095950.99+021219.1 z=6.944 Galaxy Lyman-alpha emitter — Faint Galaxy[11]

§ The tabulated distance is the light travel distance, which has no direct physical significance. See discussion at distance measures and Observable Universe


As of 2012, there were about 50 possible objects z=8 or farther, and another 100 z=7 candidates, based on photometric redshift estimates.[12][when?] Not everything is included here.[12]

Notable candidates for most distant astronomical objects, based on photometric redshift estimates
Name Redshift
(z)
Light travel distance§
(Gly)
Type Notes
UDFj-39546284 zp≅11.9? 13.37 Protogalaxy This is a candidate protogalaxy,[13][14][15][16] although recent analyses have suggested it is likely to be a lower redshift source.[17][18]
MACS0647-JD zp≅10.8 13.3 Galaxy Candidate most distant galaxy, which benefits by being magnified by the gravitational lensing effect of an intervening cluster of galaxies.[19][20]
MACS J1149-JD zp≅9.6 13.2[21] Candidate galaxy or protogalaxy [22]
GRB 090429B zp≅9.4 13.14[23] Gamma-ray burst [24] The photometric redshift in this instance has quite large uncertainty, with the lower limit for the redshift being z>7.
UDFy-33436598 zp≅8.6 Candidate galaxy or protogalaxy [25]
UDFy-38135539 zp≅8.5 Candidate galaxy or protogalaxy A spectroscopic redshift of z=8.55 was claimed for this source in 2010,[26] but has subsequently been shown to be mistaken.[27]
BoRG-58 zp≅8 Cluster or protocluster Protocluster candidate[28]
A1689-zD1 zp≅7.6 13 Galaxy or protogalaxy Galaxy[29]

§ The tabulated distance is the light travel distance, which has no direct physical significance. See discussion at distance measures and Observable Universe


List of most distant objects by type[edit]

Most distant object by type
Type Object Redshift Notes
Any astronomical object, no matter what type GRB 090423 z=8.2 [1][2] Note, the galaxy UDFj-39546284 has previously been claimed to have a photometric redshift zp≅11.9,[13][19] but more recent analyses have suggested it is likely to be a lower redshift source.[17][18]
Galaxy or protogalaxy z8 GND 5296 z=7.51 See above note regarding UDFj-39546284
Galaxy cluster CL J1449+0856
(ClG J1449+0856)
z≅2.07 Since 2011[30][31][32]
Galaxy supercluster
Quasar ULAS J1120+0641 z=7.085 [10]
See also: List of quasars
Black hole ULAS J1120+0641 z=7.085 [10]
Star or protostar or post-stellar corpse
(detected by an event)
Progenitor of GRB 090423 z=8.2 [1][2] Note, GRB 090429B has a photometric redshift zp≅9.4,[33] and so is most likely more distant than GRB 090423, but is lacking spectroscopic confirmation.
Star or protostar or post-stellar corpse
(detected as a star)
SDSS J1229+1122 55 Mly (17 Mpc) The blue supergiant is illuminating a nebula in the tidal tail of galaxy IC 3418.[34]
Star cluster
System of star clusters Globular cluster system in elliptical galaxy behind NGC 6397 1.2Gly [35][36][37][38][39]
X-ray jet GB 1428+4217 nearside quasar jet z=4.72
12.4Gly
The previous recordholder was at 12.2Gly.[40]
Microquasar XMMU J004243.6+412519 2.5 Mly First extragalactic microquasar discovered[41][42][43]
Planet OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb 21.5±3.3kly [44]
  • An analysis of the lightcurve of the microlensing event PA-99-N2 suggests the presence of a planet orbiting a star in the Andromeda Galaxy.[45]
  • A controversial microlensing event of lobe A of the double gravitationally lensed Q0957+561 suggests that there is a planet in the lensing galaxy lying at redshift 0.355 (3.7 Gly).[46][47]
Most distant event by type
Type Event Redshift Notes
Gamma-ray burst GRB 090423 z=8.2 [1][2] Note, GRB 090429B has a photometric redshift zp≅9.4,[33] and so is most likely more distant than GRB 090423, but is lacking spectroscopic confirmation.
Core collapse supernova SN 1000+0216 z=3.8993 [48]
Type Ia supernova SN UDS10Wil z=1.914 [49]
Type Ia supernova SN SCP-0401
(Mingus)
z=1.71 First observed in 2004, it was not until 2013 that it could be identified as a Type-Ia SN.[50][51]
Cosmic Decoupling Cosmic Background Radiation creation z~1000 [52]

Timeline of most distant astronomical object recordholders[edit]

Objects in this list were found to be the most distant known object at the time of determination of their distance. This is frequently not the same as the date of their discovery.

Distances to astronomical objects may be determined through parallax measurements, use of standard references such as cepheid variables or Type Ia supernovas, or redshift measurement. Spectroscopic redshift measurement is preferred, while photometric redshift measurement is also used to identify candidate high redshift sources. The symbol z represents redshift.

Most Distant Object Titleholders (not including candidates based on photometric redshifts)
Object Type Date Redshift Notes
Progenitor of GRB 090423 / Remnant of GRB 090423 Gamma-ray burst progenitor / Gamma-ray burst remnant 2009 − z=8.2 [2][53]
IOK-1 Galaxy 2006 − 2009 z=6.96 [53][54][55][56]
SDF J132522.3+273520 Galaxy 2005 − 2006 z=6.597 [56][57]
SDF J132418.3+271455 Galaxy 2003 − 2005 z=6.578 [57][58][59][60]
HCM-6A Galaxy 2002 − 2003 z=6.56 The galaxy is lensed by galaxy cluster Abell 370. This was the first non-quasar galaxy found to exceed redshift 6. It exceeded the redshift of quasar SDSSp J103027.10+052455.0 of z=6.28[58][59][61][62][63][64]
SDSS J1030+0524
(SDSSp J103027.10+052455.0)
Quasar 2001 − 2002 z=6.28 [65][66][67][68][69][70]
SDSS 1044-0125
(SDSSp J104433.04-012502.2)
Quasar 2000 − 2001 z=5.82 [71][72][69][70][73][74][75]
SSA22-HCM1 Galaxy 1999 − 2000 z>=5.74 [76][77]
HDF 4-473.0 Galaxy 1998 − 1999 z=5.60 [77]
RD1 (0140+326 RD1) Galaxy 1998 z=5.34 [78][79][80][77][81]
CL 1358+62 G1 & CL 1358+62 G2 Galaxies 1997 − 1998 z=4.92 These were the remotest objects known at the time of discovery. The pair of galaxies were found lensed by galaxy cluster CL1358+62 (z=0.33). This was the first time since 1964 that something other than a quasar held the record for being the most distant object in the universe.[79][82][83][80][77][84]
PC 1247-3406 Quasar 1991 − 1997 z=4.897 [71][85][86][87][88]
PC 1158+4635 Quasar 1989 − 1991 z=4.73 [71][88][89][90][91][92]
Q0051-279 Quasar 1987 − 1989 z=4.43 [93][89][92][94][95][96]
Q0000-26
(QSO B0000-26)
Quasar 1987 z=4.11 [93][89][97]
PC 0910+5625
(QSO B0910+5625)
Quasar 1987 z=4.04 This was the second quasar discovered with a redshift over 4.[71][98][89][99]
Q0046–293
(QSO J0048-2903)
Quasar 1987 z=4.01 [93][89][98][100][101]
Q1208+1011
(QSO B1208+1011)
Quasar 1986 − 1987 z=3.80 This is a gravitationally-lensed double-image quasar, and at the time of discovery to 1991, had the least angular separation between images, 0.45 ″.[98][102][103]
PKS 2000-330
(QSO J2003-3251, Q2000-330)
Quasar 1982 − 1986 z=3.78 [98][104][105][106]
OQ172
(QSO B1442+101)
Quasar 1974 − 1982 z=3.53 [107][108][109]
OH471
(QSO B0642+449)
Quasar 1973 − 1974 z=3.408 Nickname was "the blaze marking the edge of the universe".[107][109][110][111][112]
4C 05.34 Quasar 1970 − 1973 z=2.877 Its redshift was so much greater than the previous record that it was believed to be erroneous, or spurious.[106][109][113][114][115]
5C 02.56
(7C 105517.75+495540.95)
Quasar 1968 − 1970 z=2.399 [84][115][116]
4C 25.05
(4C 25.5)
Quasar 1968 z=2.358 [84][115][117]
PKS 0237-23
(QSO B0237-2321)
Quasar 1967 − 1968 z=2.225 [106][117][118][119][120]
4C 12.39
(Q1116+12, PKS 1116+12)
Quasar 1966 − 1967 z=2.1291 [84][120][121][122]
4C 01.02
(Q0106+01, PKS 0106+1)
Quasar 1965 − 1966 z=2.0990 [84][120][121][123]
3C 9 Quasar 1965 z=2.018 [120][124][125][126][127][128]
3C 147 Quasar 1964 − 1965 z=0.545 [129][130][131][132]
3C 295 Radio galaxy 1960 − 1964 z=0.461 [77][84][133][134][135]
LEDA 25177 (MCG+01-23-008) Brightest cluster galaxy 1951 − 1960 z=0.2
(V=61000 km/s)
This galaxy lies in the Hydra Supercluster. It is located at B1950.0 08h 55m 4s +03° 21′ and is the BCG of the fainter Hydra Cluster Cl 0855+0321 (ACO 732).[77][135][136][137][138][139][140]
LEDA 51975 (MCG+05-34-069) Brightest cluster galaxy 1936 - z=0.13
(V=39000 km/s)
The brightest cluster galaxy of the Bootes cluster (ACO 1930), an elliptical galaxy at B1950.0 14h 30m 6s +31° 46′ apparent magnitude 17.8, was found by Milton L. Humason in 1936 to have a 40,000 km/s recessional redshift velocity.[139][141][142]
LEDA 20221 (MCG+06-16-021) Brightest cluster galaxy 1932 - z=0.075
(V=23000 km/s)
This is the BCG of the Gemini Cluster (ACO 568) and was located at B1950.0 07h 05m 0s +35° 04′[141][143]
BCG of WMH Christie's Leo Cluster Brightest cluster galaxy 1931 − 1932 z=
(V=19700 km/s)
[143][144][145][146]
BCG of Baede's Ursa Major Cluster Brightest cluster galaxy 1930 − 1931 z=
(V=11700 km/s)
[146][147]
NGC 4860 Galaxy 1929 − 1930 z=0.026
(V=7800 km/s)
[147][148][149]
NGC 7619 Galaxy 1929 z=0.012
(V=3779 km/s)
Using redshift measurements, NGC 7619 was the highest at the time of measurement. At the time of announcement, it was not yet accepted as a general guide to distance, however, later in the year, Edwin Hubble described redshift in relation to distance, which became accepted widely as an inferred distance.[148][150][151]
NGC 584
(Dreyer nebula 584)
Galaxy 1921 − 1929 z=0.006
(V=1800 km/s)
At the time, nebula had yet to be accepted as independent galaxies. However, in 1923, galaxies were generally recognized as external to the Milky Way.[139][148][150][152][153][154][155]
M104 (NGC 4594) Galaxy 1913 − 1921 z=0.004
(V=1180 km/s)
This was the second galaxy whose redshift was determined; the first being Andromeda - which is approaching us and thus cannot have its redshift used to infer distance. Both were measured by Vesto Melvin Slipher. At this time, nebula had yet to be accepted as independent galaxies. NGC 4594 was measured originally as 1000 km/s, then refined to 1100, and then to 1180 in 1916.[148][152][155]
Arcturus
(Alpha Bootis)
Star 1891 − 1910 160 ly
(18 mas)
(this is very inaccurate)
This number is wrong; originally announced in 1891, the figure was corrected in 1910 to 40 ly (60 mas). From 1891 to 1910, it had been thought this was the star with the smallest known parallax, hence the most distant star whose distance was known. Prior to 1891, Arcturus had previously been recorded of having a parallax of 127 mas.[156][157][158][159]
Capella
(Alpha Aurigae)
Star 1849 -  72 ly
(46 mas)
[160][161][162]
Polaris
(Alpha Ursae Minoris)
Star 1847 - 1849 50 ly
(80 mas)
(this is very inaccurate)
[163][164]
Vega
(Alpha Lyrae)
Star (part of a double star pair) 1839 - 1847 7.77 pc
(125 mas)
[163]
61 Cygni Binary star 1838 − 1839 3.48 pc
(313.6 mas)
This was the first star other than the Sun to have its distance measured.[163][165][166]
Uranus Planet of the Solar System 1781 − 1838 18 AU This was the last planet discovered before the first successful measurement of stellar parallax. It had been determined that the stars were much farther away than the planets.
Saturn Planet of the Solar System 1619 − 1781 10 AU From Kepler's Third Law, it was finally determined that Saturn is indeed the outermost of the classical planets, and its distance derived. It had only previously been conjectured to be the outermost, due to it having the longest orbital period, and slowest orbital motion. It had been determined that the stars were much farther away than the planets.
Mars Planet of the Solar System 1609 − 1619 2.6 AU when Mars is diametrically opposed to Earth Kepler correctly characterized Mars and Earth's orbits in the publication Astronomia nova. It had been conjectured that the fixed stars were much farther away than the planets.
Sun Star 3rd century BC — 1609 380 Earth radii (very inaccurate) Aristarchus of Samos made a measurement of the distance of the Sun from the Earth in relation to the distance of the Moon from the Earth. The distance to the Moon was described in Earth radii (20, also inaccurate). The diameter of the Earth had been calculated previously. At the time, it was assumed that some of the planets were further away, but their distances could not be measured. The order of the planets was conjecture until Kepler determined the distances of the four true planets from the Sun that were not Earth. It had been conjectured that the fixed stars were much farther away than the planets.
Moon Moon of a planet 3rd century BC 20 Earth radii (very inaccurate) Aristarchus of Samos made a measurement of the distance between the Earth and the Moon. The diameter of the Earth had been calculated previously. At the time, it was assumed that some of the planets were further away, but their distances could not be measured. The order of the planets was conjecture until Kepler determined the distances of the four true planets from the Sun that were not Earth. It had been conjectured that the fixed stars were much farther away than the planets.
  • z represents redshift, a measure of recessional velocity and inferred distance due to cosmological expansion
  • mas represents parallax, a measure of angle and distance can be determined through trigonometry

List of objects by year of discovery that turned out to be most distant[edit]

This list contains a list of most distant objects by year of discovery of the object, not the determination of its distance. Objects may have been discovered without distance determination, and were found subsequently to be the most distant known at that time. However, object must have been named or described. An object like OJ 287 is ignored even though it was detected as early as 1891 using photographic plates, but ignored until the advent of radiotelescopes.

Examples
Year of record Modern
light travel distance (Mly)
Object Type Detected using First record by (1)
964 2.5[167] Andromeda Galaxy Spiral galaxy naked eye Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi[168]
1654 3 Triangulum Galaxy Spiral galaxy refracting telescope Giovanni Battista Hodierna[169]
1779 68[170] Messier 58 Barred spiral galaxy refracting telescope Charles Messier[171]
1785 76.4[172] NGC 584 Galaxy William Herschel
1880s 206 ± 29[173] NGC 1 Spiral galaxy Dreyer, Herschel
1959 2,400[174] 3C 273 Quasar Parkes Radio Telescope Maarten Schmidt, Bev Oke[175]
1960 5,000[176] 3C 295 Radio galaxy Palomar Observatory Rudolph Minkowski
Data missing from table
2009 13,000[177] GRB 090423 Gamma-ray burst progenitor Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission Krimm, H. et al.[178]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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