Hubble Space Telescope reveals extreme view

The penetrating gaze of the Hubble Space Telescope grants viewers the deepest glimpse ever into the universe's past. 

REUTERS/NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (Leiden University), and the HUDF09 Team/Handout
A new, improved portrait of Hubble's deepest-ever view of the universe, called the eXtreme Deep Field, or XDF, which shows a small area of space in the constellation Fornax, created using Hubble Space Telescope data from 2003 and 2004, is seen in this composite image.

Piecing together 10 years of Hubble Space Telescope images, astronomers on Tuesday unveiled the deepest view yet of a small sliver of the night sky, revealing a kaleidoscope of galaxies and other celestial objects.

The Hubble eXtreme Deep Field, or XDF, adds another 5,500 galaxies to Hubble's 2003 and 2004 view into a tiny patch of the farthest universe.

Hubble returned to the same target more than 50 times over the past decade, racking up an additional 2 million seconds of exposure time. The most distant objects found date back to about 500 million years after the universe's formation some 13.7 billion years ago.

RECOMMENDED: Are you scientifically literate? Take the quiz

The early universe was a violent place, filled with colliding and merging galaxies that radiate in bright blue light, a telltale sign of new star formation.

The Hubble portrait also shows brilliantly shining spiral galaxies and older red fuzzy galaxies whose star-formation days are over.

More than 2,000 images of the same field, taken by Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys and its near-infrared Wide Field Camera 3, were combined to form the XDF.

"XDF is the deepest image of the sky ever obtained," astronomer Garth Illingworth, with the University of California at Santa Cruz, said in a statement. "It allows us to explore further back in time than ever before.

(Editing by David Adams and Claudia Parsons)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.