With the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the most distant galaxy, which scientists say acts as a cosmic magnifying glass.

The Hubble Space Telescope, which is an international project in collaboration with NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The telescope was launched in 1990 and revolutionized the way how astronomers understand the universe. Astronomers have been able to make many relevant discoveries using the telescope.

On Thursday, July 31, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that the latest discovered galaxy is about 9.6 billion light-years away and is the most distant space object to science. NASA claims that the previous most distant lensing galaxy was 200 million light-years away from the Earth.

The newly-discovered galaxy belongs to a far-away galaxy cluster, which is known as IRC 0218. Scientists say that the galaxy cluster is estimated to be more than 180 billion times bigger than the sun in our solar system.

The astronomers explain that the gravitational field, such as of the latest found galaxy, is big enough to magnify the light from distant space objects. Scientists say that the phenomenon of gravitation lensing and the size of the latest found galaxy can magnify an even further galaxy located around 10.7 billion light-years away.

Scientists say that the latest discovery is important as most of the lensing galaxies are nearby and it is rare to find a huge lensing galaxy at a further distant. The astronomers believe that the new discovery will help them understand the dark-matter content in the galaxies of the distant past. It will also help scientists to understand how dark-matter evolves.

Kim-Vy Tran of Texas A&M University in College Station, who is the lead researcher of the study, that astronomers do not expect to find a lensing galaxy while looking at universe as old as nine billion years.

"Imagine holding a magnifying glass close to you and then moving it much farther away. When you look through a magnifying glass held at arm's length, the chances that you will see an enlarged object are high. But if you move the magnifying glass across the room, your chances of seeing the magnifying glass nearly perfectly aligned with another object beyond it diminishes," says Tran.

The finding of the research team was published in the July 10 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters. A free version of the paper is available for reading from arxiv.org.

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