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Hubble Images Make One Giant Canvas of Universe

Sep 26, 2012 07:39 AM EDT

NASA astronomers Tuesday showed the deepest-ever view of the universe by assembling images taken over ten years by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The photo eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) was created using image taken originally by the Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 2003 and 2004 which collected even the faintest light of the galaxies and stars located nearby or billions of light years away.

Hubble, which was first launched in 1990, took more than 2,000 images of the same patch of southern sky with an exposure time of 2 million seconds using two advanced cameras that can give the vision into near-infrared light. As many as 5,000 galaxies including spiral galaxies that look similar to our Milky Way and the neighboring Andromeda galaxy are seen in the full-color image of XDF.

From the smallest galaxy captured when they formed to our very own Milky Way galaxy, XDF has a massive collection of images pieced together into one astonishing photo. While the universe is 13.7 billion years old, the image includes galaxies that are even 13.2 billion years old.

These galaxies could be seen when they were very small, young, and merged with other galaxies as the light form those galaxies reached Earth only now. The youngest galaxy on the image is shown when it was formed just 450 million years after the formation of the universe, reported NASA.

The image also shows fuzzy red galaxies that were formed due to the collision of other galaxies and are in the stage of decline. "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," Garth Illingworth of the University of California at Santa Cruz, principal investigator of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2009 (HUDF09) program, said in a news release.

While the Hubble has captured images of the farthest-ever galaxies, scientists are further planning to study the rise of first galaxies using NASA's James Webb Telescope, likely to be launched in 2018.

As the universe expands, the infrared wavelengths of light from distant galaxies have become longer. The Webb Telescope will be suitable to observe the infrared vision of light from the earliest galaxies that formed during the initial period of the universe.

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