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As we know light has a definite speed i.e. $c=299792458$ m/s so it takes some big time to travel from distant galaxies, right? So I always wonder about the big telescopes and big space companies captured the photos of very distant galaxies. Are they as they were many generations ago or they are fresh (means we see what happened at the time of capture)

Like the GN-z11 galaxy the farthest known galaxy to man!

From previous studies, the galaxy GN-z11 seems to be the farthest detectable galaxy from us, at 13.4 billion light-years, or 134 nonillion kilometers (that's 134 followed by 30 zeros) ~stated by Nobunari Kashikawa

Credit: NASA/ESA; P. Oesch et al. (2016) ,ps: taken thru website astrobites.org

Does the picture depict an older time? Like light may have taken $13.4$ billion years to travel, so the galaxy might be that much old? Does this mean the observable universe might be older than I might think?

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When I look at my clock (which is 3 metres from my chair) I see how it was about 10 nanoseconds ago. I don't see the clock "now", but always a little time in the past.

When you look at the sun, you see how it looked 8½ minutes ago.

When you look at GN-z11 you see how it looked 13.4 billion years ago.

That is a fundamental fact about our universe. You can never see anything as they are "now" you can only see how they were at some point in the past. The picture depicts an older time. This is true of every single picture ever taken! But with galaxies, this is very useful. We can see how the typical galaxy has changed over the history of the universe.

(Kashikawa-san is wrong in a couple of ways. It has taken light 13.4 billion years to travel from GN-z11 to Earth. But the expansion of the universe over that time means that the distance is actually more than that, about 33.5 billion lightyears, but that is 3.2e23 km or 32 followed by 22 zeros. Big, but not as big as he claims. These details don't affect the meaning of my answer)

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  • $\begingroup$ Regarding a nanosecond per foot (approximately), see Admiral/Dr. Grace Hopper nanosecond, including David Letterman show appearance. $\endgroup$ Sep 25 at 23:03
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    $\begingroup$ To anticipate a question that might follow closely from this, there is no way to get around this delay and see what's there "now". The reasons go far beyond this question, but in short, due to relativistic time dilation and length contraction, there's actually no way to define a universal "now", and any mechanism for transmitting information faster than light would also allow for transmitting information backwards in time. $\endgroup$ Sep 25 at 23:40
  • $\begingroup$ Haha! got you nice demonstartion! $\endgroup$
    – Gamin8ing
    Sep 26 at 10:45
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The answer is Yes.

Everything you see in deep space is old. We see the sun 8 minutes in the past, the Proxima Centauri we see is 4.2 years old, The Andromeda galaxy we see is 2.5 million years old, The black-hole scientists took a picture of is 50 million years old.

The deeper we look, the older it is, because the light we see has to travel a longer distance from there to earth.

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