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

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.

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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  • Not too shabby for a device...

    that was so derided on its launch.
  • 13.2 billion years ago?

    how is kidding who? no one can see yesterday or the day before. most can barely remember yesterday much less the day before.
    so i ask how can anyone believe 13.2 billion years ago?
    on the off chance that this could be done what is the reference point?
    today? today was along time in the future 13.2 billion years ago.
    smoke and mirrors will fool most everybody all the time.
    • 13.2 billion years

      you live in a geocentric universe!
      Jeannie Kelley
    • You are kidding yourself

      You are looking into the past because light has a finite speed. The distance between our Earth and these other galaxies is massive, which means it takes a longer period of time for the light from those galaxies to reach the earth. The light from the sun takes approximatley 8 minutes to reach your eyes here on Earth, so imagine expanding that out over billions of light years rather than over 8 light minutes. The light that you see coming from those galaxies is billions of years old, which means that the image you see is also billions of years old. If you were to travel towards those galaxies at the speed of light you would actually see the image advance at time x2, while the time of the galaxy remains at a constant rate.
      Brad Rowald
      • Response to Curtis Crab

        I think that you are serious and I also think that you are just one of those who sit in the privacy of their home, making dumb comments backed up by nothing.
        Like SamBo4, I advise no one to listen to this anonymous and misleading muck; even though a reputable website has allowed your excreta to be put up.
        The Hubble is an amazing piece of technology that is way ahead of it's time and has accomplished more than expected since it began work. It has even astounded those people at NASA and JPL who built it !
    • Response to curtisdacrab

      I'm not sure if curtisdacrab is being serious, and I'm hoping someone more scientificly qualified can add to this. Kids - don't listen to this guy...

      Curt - you can absolutley "look into the past". Light takes time to travel across distance, and its a considerable distance to different galaxies. Heard of a lightyear? (per wikipedia, 1 light-year = 9460730472580800 metres (exactly) These pictures are of places that are 13.2 billion light years away, therefore what we see today is from 13.2 billion years ago.

      Not quite smoke in mirrors...
      • Actually, you would be wrong too...

        since, if it took 13.2 billion years for the light of those galaxies to reach us, those galaxies would not be where they were those 13.2 billion years ago, and they would be, in this current moment of universal constant time, way more distant.

        By universal constant time, I'm referring to a constant, which would require that the universe be seen as one entity in the framework of a single god-like entity who could see all as one, universally, and not dependent on the definition of time being dependent on the speed of light.

        If one were to look at a wave on an ocean, and one were to follow that wave across the ocean, one could define time as, how far that wave took to travel from point A to point B. But, if one were to look at the whole ocean from the distance of space, the movement of the wave would be immaterial to the bigger image that one could get from that distant position of space.

        Imagine then that, there were to be a different universe next to ours, where an intelligent life form had a complete view of our universe as a single blob. That intelligent life form would not be thinking about our universe in terms of how big it is in terms of the speed of light. It would be a single unit to that entity in the other universe, and the speed of light would be irrelevant. The view to that entity would be of a single blob, with space and time becoming irrelevant. But, for sure, that life form would notice that, our blob was expanding. If that entity could look at the edges of our universe, and take a look at us within that universe, he would be looking at the whole thing within a constant single instance, and measurements using time frames and/or distances, would not even enter into any "mental or scientific" calculations for that other universe's life-form.

        It's all relative, including the speed of light, and time, and universal constants.
    • the speed of light

      The light coming from the sun takes 8 minutes to reach us, the light from these galaxies was emitted 13.2 billion years ago.

      They measure the light's intensity, frequency, and relative position (parallax) to determine how old it is. Light is subject to the doppler effect just like sound is, so we can see how long light has traveled by studying how much it is red or blue shifted.

      If you want to go back even further, look up the microwave background radiation from the beginning of the Universe.

      Smoke and mirrors? Nope, you're just clueless.
      • rguitar87 explains some basics to Dr. Crab

        Even with all of this veracity printed above and below, I don't think Curtis Crab has the nouse to grasp it. Sad.
      • parallax is useless

        for distant objects. You need very accurate instruments even for something like α Cygni (Deneb), parallax of which was hard to measure even for Hipparcos to have arrived at 1,550 lyrs. Now it ranges between 2,600 and 3,229 lyrs
        As far as more distant objects than our own Galaxy are concerned, you rely on standard candles of all kinds, color (yes, frequency as you pointed out) with the Hubble(Lemaître) Law and correlations of all these methods.
    • RE: 13.2 billion years ago?

      Silly creationist... arguments from ignorance get no play.

      Measurements by the WMAP satellite can help resolve this crisis. If current ideas about the origin of large-scale structure are correct, then the detailed structure of the cosmic microwave background fluctuations will depend on the current density of the universe, the composition of the universe and its expansion rate. WMAP has been able to determine these parameters with an accuracy of better than than 3% of the critical density. In turn, knowing the composition with this precision, we can estimate the age of the universe to about 1%: 13.7 ± 0.13 billion years!

      How does WMAP data enable us to determine the age of the universe is 13.7 billion years, with an uncertainty of 1%? The key to this is that by knowing the composition of matter and energy density in the universe, we can use Einstein's General Relativity to compute how fast the universe has been expanding in the past. With that information, we can turn the clock back and determine when the universe had "zero" size, according to Einstein. The time between then and now is the age of the universe.
      Samuel Walter
      • No Bibles, or no schoolbooks?

        You really think he's a creationist? There's nothing of that in his note. What there is, is a very common system error: "Ignorance" found where "Science Education" was expected.
        Robert Hahn
      • And then, from "zero size", or nothing, came everything...

        Simple as that!!!

        What we don't understand, we can't dispute, or come to any kind of certainty about.

        No, things are not as simple as science would have us believe, nor as simple as the bible and religions would have us believe.

        The truth is out there, and still, beyond our little minds to comprehend.
    • Troll

      U R A Troll. If you really want to know the answer, read "A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing" by Lawrence M. Krauss. You should also note that the universe is what it is regardless of your level of ignorance. It is not required to conform to your beliefs or lack of knowledge.
      • Troll: one who may disagree with my position or beliefs...

        One who uses the word troll to attack someone because he/she has a different point of view or a different understanding, is one who is, basically, intolerant and is single-minded and unable to listen and learn.

        No scientist or researcher can, as far as can be determined currently, tell us that, we got an entire immense universe of matter and energy and rules (including he math that explains the behavior of everything) and shapes and an unending variety of objects, including life-forms, out of, NOTHING!!!!
  • Good grief does

    ZDNet's spam filter absolutely suck.
    • It's all reflections

      of the sun through the great faceted crystal we sit inside Next year voyager will smack into it and then you'll see... I guess I watch the Colour of Magic too much.
      • For absolutely crying out loud, ZDNet

        your spam filter pitched a fit over the phrase "whenever I read and article like this, I can't help but think"
        • Mr. Baggins....

          OK, we get it. You're pissed with a spam filter....blame your computer because your settings are wrong. Never had the slightest problem with spam filters on any website myself. Probably because I spend some time doing housekeeping on my pc.
          • You misunderstand. ZDNet was

            refusing to take the comment because ZDNet thought the phrase indicated my comment was spam.