When a team of astronomers discovered a new galaxy in the direction of Ursa Major two years ago, they weren't sure what to make of their find.
GN-z11, as they dubbed it, seemed small, reddish and unexpectedly bright. It appeared far away even by cosmic standards. But because it lay beyond the optimal reach of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, it left them scratching their heads.
Now they're certain it represents history.
The international team, which includes an astronomer based in Baltimore, pushed Hubble to its limits this year to demonstrate that GN-z11 is the most distant galaxy ever observed. That would make it the oldest known snapshot of a universe in the...