NASA's Hubble gazes 13.2 billion years into universe's past

Summary:NASA has released the eXtreme Deep Field (XDF), the deepest-ever shot of the universe, composed of 10 years of photos from the Hubble Space Telescope.

NASA has published the deepest-ever view of the universe, stitching together multiple images from the Hubble Space Telescope.

XDF
The XDF. Image: NASA; ESA; G. Illingworth, D Magee, and P Oesch, University of California, Santa Cruz; R Bouwens, Leiden University; and the HUDF09 Team

The eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) focuses on a small patch of the constellation Fornax, containing some 5,500 galaxies. The image was culled from 10 years of photos of the same region of space shown in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, which was last updated in 2009, based on data gathered in 2003 and 2004.

The XDF offers an even deeper view than the Ultra Deep Field, revealing galaxies of multiple colours and shapes, as well as burnt-out red galaxies where stars are no longer formed.

"The XDF is the deepest image of the sky ever obtained and reveals the faintest and most distant galaxies ever seen," said Garth Illingworth, principal investigator of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2009 programme, in a statement on Tuesday. "XDF allows us to explore further back in time than ever before."

In fact, the galaxies in the image date back 13.2 billion years into the universe's 13.7 billion-year lifespan.

The Hubble Telescope, which launched in 1990, is expected to continue functioning until 2014. The successor to the Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope, is scheduled to launch in 2018 and is designed to look even further into the XDF, seeking to capture galaxies that existed when the universe was just a few hundred million years old.

Topics: Nasa / Space, Emerging Tech

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