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Telescope sees early view of universe

WASHINGTON — The Hubble Space Telescope has captured the earliest image yet of the universe — just 600 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was just a toddler.

Scientists released the photo (http://hubblesite.org/) Tuesday at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. It's the most complete picture of the early universe so far, showing galaxies with stars that are already hundreds of millions of years old, along with the unmistakable primordial signs of the first cluster of stars.

These young galaxies haven't yet formed their familiar spiral or elliptical shapes,and are much smaller and quite blue in color. That's mostly because at this stage, they don't contain many heavy metals, said Garth Illingworth, a University of California, Santa Cruz, astronomy professor who was among those releasing the photo.

Until NASA's Hubble telescope was repaired and upgraded last year, the furthest back in time that astronomers could see was about 900 million years after the Big Bang, Illingworth said.

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