Hubble space telescope captures deepest-ever view of the universe

26 Sep 2012

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble space telescope are claiming to have captured the farthest-ever view of a small area of night sky in a new photo that reveals about 5,500 galaxies, some that span back 13.2bn years in time.

This composite image of what NASA is calling the ‘eXtreme Deep Field’ was created by combining around 2,000 photos taken by the Hubble space telescope in a small patch of sky at the centre of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. This is an area of space in the constellation Fornax, which was created using Hubble data from 2003 and 2004.

NASA said the new image contains around 5,500 galaxies, with the faintest galaxies being one 10 billionth the brightness of what the human eye can see.

To compile the image, Hubble pointed at a small path of southern sky over the past 10 years, with a total exposure time of 2m seconds.

“The XDF is the deepest image of the sky ever obtained and reveals the faintest and most distant galaxies ever seen. XDF allows us to explore further back in time than ever before,” said Garth Illingworth of the University of California at Santa Cruz, also a principal investigator of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2009 programme.

NASA said the photo shows galaxies that extend back 13.2bn years during the birth of the early universe, which is 13.7bn years old.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic