Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

The historical quest for the farthest astrononomical object. Can anyone help me?

  1. Feb 17, 2010 #1
    Hi everybody! After some time reading you I decided to join the forum. Since a few days ago I'm looking for information but I cannot find anyting... hope you can give me a hand!

    What I'm trying to do is a list of the farthest known astronomical object per year of record.


    Yeah, it is for this small website who never have heard about before :tongue2:

    Probably I should remove Abell 1835 IR1916 because it was not confirmed, but what about the years between 1800 and 2000? What was discovered back then? Galileo was busy looking to the solar system, was someone else looking farther away?
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 17, 2010 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Some of the farthest things we see are quasars (which can outshine galaxies). You may want to look some of those up.

    I'm not so good with the history of this stuff, but before Hubble, it was uncertain whether the Universe WAS the Milky way or whether the Milky Way was just one of many such cluster of stars (now known as galaxies). So, even if people found farther stuff...it's doubtful they really appreciated the distances involved, and therefore hard to gauge imo.
  4. Feb 17, 2010 #3
    Thanks for the information, apparently the first quasar was detected in 1959. It is 2,400 Mly away, so I have updated the table accordingly.

    I'm aware that they probably didn't know how far away could they observe, but even so, there are records and now we know how far they got. As I've said this information is hard to collect, but it gives some good insight about the progress in space observation.

    If you find something else, you can just edit the table by yourself ;)
  5. Feb 18, 2010 #4
    There is a complication here that quasars have been detected since 1875, it's just that no one knew that they had huge redshifts until 1962 and it wasn't until the early 1970's when it was generally accepted that the redshifts were cosmological.
  6. Feb 18, 2010 #5
    Could you please give me a reference?

    By the way, the new page is:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_distant_astronomical_object_record_holders" [Broken]

    The first part is about when the farthest distance was measured. The second one, when the farthest object was detected (maybe not knowing how far or what it was).
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  7. Feb 18, 2010 #6
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/0907.1415 has a reference to Smith, H. J. & Hoffleit, D. 1963a, AJ, 68, 292 which looked at the variability of 3c273 starting with photographic plates starting in the 1880's. You'll have to decide what constitutes a "discovery" since what happened was that once they saw that 3c273 was odd, they went back and looked at other photographic plates.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  8. Feb 18, 2010 #7
    Something else that you might what to mention is the CMB background.
  9. Feb 19, 2010 #8
    Thanks for the reference and the explanation about what happened there. I will change the requisits to make it into the table from "Detected in (year)" to "Detected and Named/Described in (year)". I think it will make more sense.

    My list is about objects, the CMB would be more suitable for a timeline list of astronomy discoveries.

    Again, thank you for your comments. This is not an easy task, and any help is very welcome.
  10. Feb 19, 2010 #9
    It looks like a really, really great chart.

    Also one other minor suggestions:

    1) It's better to use Megaparsecs rather than Mega light years since the former is the standard for galactic distances

    2) Also when quoting distances to quasars, you should also include the assumed Hubble constant you are using to get Megaparsecs. You might also mention that you are quoting the Hubble distance.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook