By Tom Metcalfe
Astronomers have created the most detailed image of our evolving universe. The impressive image, combined with thousands of individual photographs taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, shows more than a quarter of a million galaxies, or roughly 30 times more galaxies than the previous "deep-field" photos.
Dubbed as Hubble Legacy Field, the mosaic photo offers not only a detailed look at a small piece of sky in the Fornax constellation but also a look back in time.
"Galaxies are scattered over time, from 550 million years ago to 13 billion years ago," MACH Garth Illingworth, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the team leader who created the galaxy, told NBC News. the picture. an email. "His light has just arrived on Earth now, after crossing space for billions of years."
It is believed that the universe emerged as a result of the Big Bang, which occurred approximately 13,800 million years ago.
Illingworth called the new image, which shows galaxies so faint and far away that they are 10 billion times too weak for the human eye to see, a "living history book of the development of the galaxy."
Illingworth and his colleagues created the image by combining nearly 7,500 separate exposures of approximately 265,000 galaxies taken by Hubble over a 16-year period.
The exposures, taken at a variety of wavelengths to highlight the particular characteristics of each galaxy, include some of Hubble's similar photos, including the deepest image in the universe, Hubble's eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) of 2012.
Deep-field views help astronomers track the expansion of the universe, and galaxies show when the chemical elements originated and led to the conditions that made life possible.
"The entire succession of Hubble field images has helped to clarify, and has clearly emphasized, that the universe is not a place but a process," said Ed Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. "The Hubble Legacy Field image is just one more piece of evidence that the Hubble Space Telescope is one of the best ideas this planet has ever had," he added.
The new image will not be surpbaded until the newer space telescopes begin to operate, according to NASA. Hubble's long-awaited successor, the much larger James Webb Space Telescope, is scheduled to be launched in 2021.
Hubble launched into Earth's orbit in 1990. It was expected to operate only between five and ten years, but it has been disappearing for 29 years, and it is expected to be maintained for at least another five years.
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