The Hubble Space Telescope (HST), the first major optical telescope that was launched into space, has been used to produce a new image of the deep universe. The image consisting of 7500 individual photos taken over the course of sixteen years by the HST, reveals countless never-before-seen galaxies, providing new insight into our knowledge of the universe’s vast history and size.
The new image known as Hubble Ultra-Deep Field is part of the ongoing Hubble Legacy Field project, which directs the telescope’s cameras to survey a relatively small area of the night’s sky year after year. This image contains an estimated 265,000 visible galaxies in an area roughly the size of Earth’s moon.
Sine 1995 astronauts have visited the Hubble a number of times, performing repairs, upgrading cameras and hardware allowing the HST to improve its view and enhance the original Deep Field image.
The spectrum of the photo ranges from ultraviolet to almost infrared light and includes galaxies ten billion times fainter than our naked eyes are able to see. Essentially the image depicts what the universe looks like 13.3 billion years ago, as this is how long the galaxies light takes to reach Hubble’s cameras, giving astronomers a look at the universe roughly 500 million years after the big bang.
According to Garth Illingworth, an astronomer at the University of California at Santa Cruz, “No image will surpass this one until future space telescopes like James Webb are launched. Now that we have gone wider than in previous surveys, we are harvesting many more distant galaxies in the largest such dataset ever produced.”
The James Webb Space Telescope will become Hubble’s successor when it launches in March 2021 and will allow for further and deeper investigations into cosmology and astronomy.