According to NASA, earthlike planets covered with deep oceans that could harbor life may be found in as many as a third of solar systems discovered outside of our own. Astronomers analyzing two of the deepest views of the cosmos made with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have uncovered a gold mine of galaxies, more than 500 that existed less than a billion years after the Big Bang. These galaxies thrived when the cosmos was less than 7% of its present age of 13.7 billion years. This sample represents the most comprehensive compilation of galaxies in the early universe.
Before this, astronomers had not seen even one galaxy that existed when the universe was a billion years old, so finding 500 in a Hubble survey is an important step. Just a few years ago, astronomers did not have the technology to hunt for faraway galaxies in large numbers. The Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 2002, has allowed astronomers to probe some of the deepest recesses of our universe. The galaxies uncovered so far promise that many more galaxies at even greater distances are awaiting discovery by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), scheduled to launch in 2013.
The next step is the search for intelligent life.
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