New "extreme" Hubble shows deepest view yet of night sky

Cape Canaveral, Florida Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:26pm EDT

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 released to Reuters on September 25, 2012. By collecting faint light over many hours of observation, it revealed thousands of galaxies, both nearby and very distant, making it the deepest image of the universe ever taken at that time, according to the news release. 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 released to Reuters on September 25, 2012. By collecting faint light over many hours of observation, it revealed thousands of galaxies, both nearby and very distant, making it the deepest image of the universe ever taken at that time, according to the news release.

Credit: Reuters/NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (Leiden University), and the HUDF09 Team/Handout

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Cape Canaveral, Florida (Reuters) - 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.

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)

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Comments (1)
OutfieldDan wrote:
It’s starting to look like our assumption of when the universe began is simply wrong. The further back we look in time, the further back there is to go. How can some of the galaxies in this image that supposedly shows a part of the universe that’s only 500 MY old, have red fuzzy galaxies in it whose star forming days are over? 500 MY is a brief heartbeat for a galaxy and our own sun is over 4.5 BY old.

Sep 27, 2012 3:38pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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