Hubble nudges the dawn of universe

As far back as we can see

Yesterday, astronomers revealed the deepest-ever picture of the visible universe, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST).

It contains an estimated 10,000 galaxies clustered in a patch of sky one-tenth the diameter of the moon. In among the normal spirals and ellipses are an assortment of odd-looking galaxies. The European Space Agency explains that this is because we are looking at a time when order and structure in the universe were just beginning to emerge, and when the first galaxies were starting to reheat the universe.

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field is the result of a million-second (nearly 12 days) exposure and reveals the earliest galaxies to emerge from the so-called Dark Ages just after the Big Bang.

The picture reveals galaxies too faint to be seen from the ground, or in Hubble’s previous faraway looks, called the Deep Fields, taken in 1995 and 1998.

The picture is composed of two images taken by the HST’s Near Infrared camera and Multi-object Spectrometer (NICMOS) and Advanced Camera for Surveys.

The NICMOS camera may even reveal galaxies that existed only 400 million years after the Big Bang.

This will hold the record as the deepest-ever view of the Universe until ESA and NASA launch the James Webb Space Telescope in 2011. ®

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