Hubble goes to the eXtreme to assemble the deepest ever view of the universe

Sep 25, 2012
This image, called the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF), combines Hubble observations taken over the past decade of a small patch of sky in the constellation of Fornax. With a total of over two million seconds of exposure time, it is the deepest image of the Universe ever made, combining data from previous images including the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (taken in 2002 and 2003) and Hubble Ultra Deep Field Infrared (2009). The image covers an area less than a tenth of the width of the full Moon, making it just a 30 millionth of the whole sky. Yet even in this tiny fraction of the sky, the long exposure reveals about 5500 galaxies, some of them so distant that we see them when the Universe was less than 5% of its current age. The Hubble eXtreme Deep Field image contains several of the most distant objects ever identified. Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (Leiden University), and the HUDF09 Team

(Phys.org)—Like photographers assembling a portfolio of their best shots, astronomers have assembled a new, improved portrait of our deepest-ever view of the Universe. Called the eXtreme Deep Field, or XDF, the photo was assembled by combining ten years of NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope observations taken of a patch of sky within the original Hubble Ultra Deep Field. The XDF is a small fraction of the angular diameter of the full Moon.

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field is an image of a small area of space in the constellation of Fornax (The Furnace), created using data from 2003 and 2004. By collecting faint light over one million seconds of observation, the resulting image revealed thousands of galaxies, both nearby and very distant, making it the deepest image of the ever taken at that time.

The new full-colour XDF image is even more sensitive than the original Hubble Ultra Deep Field image, thanks to the additional observations, and contains about 5500 galaxies, even within its smaller field of view. The faintest galaxies are one ten-billionth the brightness that the unaided human eye can see.

Magnificent spiral galaxies similar in shape to the Milky Way and its neighbour the appear in this image, as do large, fuzzy red galaxies in which the formation of has ceased. These red galaxies are the remnants of dramatic collisions between galaxies and are in their declining years as the stars within them age.

Peppered across the field are tiny, faint, and yet more distant galaxies that are like the seedlings from which today's magnificent galaxies grew. The history of galaxies—from soon after the first galaxies were born to the great galaxies of today, like the Milky Way—is laid out in this one remarkable image.

Hubble pointed at a tiny patch of in repeat visits made over the past decade with a total exposure time of two million seconds. More than 2000 images of the same field were taken with Hubble's two primary cameras: the Advanced Camera for Surveys and the Wide Field Camera 3, which extends Hubble's vision into near-infrared light. These were then combined to form the XDF.

"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," said Garth Illingworth of the University of California at Santa Cruz, principal investigator of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2009 (HUDF09) programme.

The Universe is 13.7 billion years old, and the XDF reveals galaxies that span back 13.2 billion years in time. Most of the galaxies in the XDF are seen when they were young, small, and growing, often violently as they collided and merged together. The early Universe was a time of dramatic birth for galaxies containing brilliant blue stars far brighter than our Sun. The light from those past events is just arriving at Earth now, and so the XDF is a time tunnel into the distant past when the Universe was just a fraction of its current age. The youngest galaxy found in the XDF existed just 450 million years after the Universe's birth in the Big Bang.

Before Hubble was launched in 1990, astronomers were able to see galaxies up to about seven billion light-years away, half way back to the Big Bang. Observations with telescopes on the ground were not able to establish how galaxies formed and evolved in the early Universe.

Hubble gave astronomers their first view of the actual forms of galaxies when they were young. This provided compelling, direct visual evidence that the Universe is truly changing as it ages. Like watching individual frames of a motion picture, the Hubble deep surveys reveal the emergence of structure in the infant Universe and the subsequent dynamic stages of galaxy evolution.

The planned NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope (Webb telescope) will be aimed at the XDF, and will study it with its infrared vision. The Webb telescope will find even fainter galaxies that existed when the Universe was just a few hundred million years old. Because of the expansion of the Universe, light from the distant past is stretched into longer, infrared wavelengths. The Webb telescope's infrared vision is ideally suited to push the XDF even deeper, into a time when the first stars and formed and filled the early "dark ages" of the Universe with light.

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baudrunner
1.5 / 5 (16) Sep 25, 2012
When the James Webb Telescope is pointed at some "empty" region of space, they'll be surprised to find galaxies far older than 13.7 billion years. That's because the Universe is much, much older than that. There are galaxies so far out there that we will never, ever see their light.
loneislander
3.1 / 5 (16) Sep 25, 2012
"..the Universe is much, much older than that." Even if the universe were 60bln, we don't know it is with such certainty as to support such a statement.

Why must cranks try to convince people of this type of nonesense. I can understand being confused but I can't understand the need to confuse.
Bowler_4007
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 25, 2012
how do we actually know that the universe is older than 13.7 billion years? if it is infinite then we can't determine its age by its size, in fact if it is there may be no way to determine its age
Pressure2
2.6 / 5 (5) Sep 25, 2012
That is a beautiful picture and to think that is only 1/30,000,000 of a panorama of the whole visible universe.

So we should be able to see 30 million times 5500 or approximately 1,650,000,000,000 galaxies.
RealScience
5 / 5 (2) Sep 25, 2012
@Pressure2 - You've added an extra zero - it's 165,000,000,000 galaxies.
But you are right in spirit - it is a beautiful picture, and 30,000,000 of that is an amazing universe.
ScooterG
1 / 5 (11) Sep 25, 2012
I'd like to see a picture of Nibiru before it comes to reset earth's clock.
Lurker2358
1.6 / 5 (7) Sep 25, 2012
I'd like to see a picture of Nibiru before it comes to reset earth's clock.


It's only less than 3 months till December 21. Nibiru would need to be moving like 10 times faster than a comet to get here in time.
ScooterG
1 / 5 (10) Sep 25, 2012
I'd like to see a picture of Nibiru before it comes to reset earth's clock.


It's only less than 3 months till December 21. Nibiru would need to be moving like 10 times faster than a comet to get here in time.


All things are possible.
Demitroy
5 / 5 (9) Sep 26, 2012
I look at the picture captioned in this article and the only thing going through my mind is what is out there? The idea that this basic wonder about the universe we inhabit has been lost by so many people is one of the saddest things I can imagine...

Luckily there are a few of us left who see this beauty and dedicate our lives to trying to understand...
Shinichi D_
5 / 5 (5) Sep 26, 2012
how do we actually know that the universe is older than 13.7 billion years? if it is infinite then we can't determine its age by its size, in fact if it is there may be no way to determine its age


The age has nothing to do with the size of the universe. Even the size of the observable universe is confusing, if you use everyday logic. The age was determined by the distance and receding velocity of distant galaxies. Given this two data, it turns out, that everything we can see, was 'here' in one point 13.7 billion years ago. You don't need to know anything about the size of the observable universe, the CMBR or anything like that. The age is not determined by the size, because we do not speak about the concentric shockwaves of an explosion. The universe is not exploding, its expanding.
Pressure2
3.4 / 5 (5) Sep 26, 2012
@Pressure2 - You've added an extra zero - it's 165,000,000,000 galaxies.
But you are right in spirit - it is a beautiful picture, and 30,000,000 of that is an amazing universe.

You are correct RealScience, thanks.
rwinners
1 / 5 (2) Sep 26, 2012
First question that comes to mind: Will there be another sequel?
HeloMenelo
1.7 / 5 (11) Sep 26, 2012
I look at this un comprehendable vastness with deep thought and think... And they try and tell me that God had nothing to do with this. I am now convinced beyond existence that He does exist.

Absolutely mind blowing how arrogant these little critters we call homo-sapiens are on on this little micro dust mite sized ball which we inhabit.
RealScience
4.3 / 5 (6) Sep 26, 2012
HeloMenelo - The vastness is indeed awe-inspring.

But what is arrogant is those little creatures who think that they are somehow special in the eyes of a creator of the whole universe.
Argiod
1.5 / 5 (8) Sep 26, 2012
"...we see them when the Universe was less than 5% of its current age..." "...The youngest galaxy found in the XDF existed just 450 million years after the Universe's birth in the Big Bang..."

So, the youngest galaxy seen the furthest distance from us existed 450 million years after the so-called Big Bang. How did it get so far from the epicenter of the Big Bang so fast; without breaking the laws of physics, of course. Though, technically, I think the Big Bang theory itself violates the most basic law of Physics: that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it only changes form. Ergo, either the Big Bang is bogus, or the foundation tenet of Physics is bogus. You simply cannot have both in the same univers. And if you say the laws of Physics was different then, you're pulling a rabbit out of a hat and blowing smoke up our buttz.

Shinichi D_
5 / 5 (4) Sep 26, 2012

So, the youngest galaxy seen the furthest distance from us existed 450 million years after the so-called Big Bang. How did it get so far from the epicenter of the Big Bang so fast; without breaking the laws of physics, of course.



All galaxies on that picture are at the epicenter. You might as well point at your forehead and say, this is the epicenter of the universe, and in a way you would be right. Everything is at the epicenter.
There is no physical law that prohibit space to expand faster than the speed of light.
ScooterG
1 / 5 (14) Sep 26, 2012
But what is arrogant is those little creatures who think that they are somehow special in the eyes of a creator of the whole universe.


We were "made in his image". That alone makes us special.
RealScience
4.5 / 5 (8) Sep 26, 2012
We were "made in his image".

Do you really think that the entire universe, in all its glory, was created by some male creature who looks like us?

That alone makes us special.

Are you really so arrogant as to think that we are so special that this whole universe was purposefully created just for humanity?
ScooterG
1.3 / 5 (11) Sep 27, 2012
Do you really think that the entire universe, in all its glory, was created by some male creature who looks like us?[q/]

Yes, that is what I believe. Would you have me believe that we humans are the product of a random collision of chemicals?

Are you really so arrogant as to think that we are so special that this whole universe was purposefully created just for humanity?[q/]

I'm a creationist and a Christian. I believe there are other life forms out there, all of which (hopefully) enjoy their niche in the universe. I suspect many animals also enjoy life and living - that certainly seems to be the case with my two dogs :)
Besides, if you have the power to create one earth, why not create many? It's not like The Man is relying on the performance of middle-managers to keep it all going.

But, if you have a better explanation, this is a great place to share it. Besides, it might make interesting reading.
RealScience
2.8 / 5 (4) Sep 27, 2012
@scooterG - I am glad that you think that the universe was created for just us - thank you for not having the arrogance that so many creationists have.

My other question was not whether you believe in a creator, but whether you believe that it was created by a MALE creator who LOOKS LIKE US.

Whether the universe (or multiverse) was created by an intelligent entity or by simple physical processes is a question that is currently beyond the realm of science.

But I do not find it plausible that whatever created our universe is a male humanoid. Do you really think that?
ScooterG
1 / 5 (10) Sep 27, 2012
@scooterG - I am glad that you think that the universe was created for just us - thank you for not having the arrogance that so many creationists have.

My other question was not whether you believe in a creator, but whether you believe that it was created by a MALE creator who LOOKS LIKE US.

Whether the universe (or multiverse) was created by an intelligent entity or by simple physical processes is a question that is currently beyond the realm of science.

But I do not find it plausible that whatever created our universe is a male humanoid. Do you really think that?


I have no reason not to believe it. I do not necessarily need to fully understand something in order to believe in it.
If God is a male humanoid (to use your description), and (as he has claimed) he desires to share heaven with us, then it makes sense he would want us to be "in his image" - I can see where it would be more fun that way. Think of you interacting with your grandchildren.
RealScience
5 / 5 (3) Sep 27, 2012
And you don't think that 'in his image' meant something much deeper like 'intelligent' or 'self-aware', or 'capable of understanding the universe', rather than meaning that god is a male biped who looks like a hairless monkey?

ScooterG
1 / 5 (9) Sep 27, 2012
And you don't think that 'in his image' meant something much deeper like 'intelligent' or 'self-aware', or 'capable of understanding the universe', rather than meaning that god is a male biped who looks like a hairless monkey?



It ("in his image") could mean a lot of things, and probably does. The more important question is why are you so hung-up on that one trivial detail?
RealScience
2.6 / 5 (5) Sep 27, 2012

It ("in his image") could mean a lot of things, and probably does. The more important question is why are you so hung-up on that one trivial detail?


I'm not hung up on that detail - you brought up being "made in his image" and said that it "made us special", even when considering the scale of the universe.

I am happy to see that you think that it could mean a lot of things, rather than taking it literally. You seem to be much more broad-minded than most creationists!
VendicarD
5 / 5 (2) Sep 27, 2012
"if it is infinite then we can't determine its age by its size" - Bowler

We don't do that now.

We determine it's age by how far it is to the point of non-visibility due to it's expansion.

An infinite universe is completely compatible with the standard big bang theory, since it presumes that space is being created, and there is no limit to how fast space is created.
VendicarD
5 / 5 (2) Sep 27, 2012
There big bang had no epicenter. That's how.

"How did it get so far from the epicenter of the Big Bang so fast;" - Argiod

Those galaxies are essentially stationary and have never moved substantially relative to the space in which they find themselves.

"Though, technically, I think the Big Bang theory itself violates the most basic law of Physics: that energy can neither be created nor destroyed," - Argiod

Time travels more slowly in high gravitational fields. As you go back in time, and the universe is more compact it has a higher ambient gravitational field, and hence time progresses more slowly in that environment.

The closer you get, the farther you have to go to get to the origin.

What makes you think that there was a t=0 for the universe?

ScooterG
1.4 / 5 (9) Sep 28, 2012
I am happy to see that you think that it could mean a lot of things, rather than taking it literally. You seem to be much more broad-minded than most creationists!


Fair enough.

The Bible is a fascinating read, but one needs to take into consideration the mentality "level" of the people at the time of the writing and also at the time of the actions described in the Bible. eg: God could have sent quantum physics down to Moses, but the people weren't ready for that. Instead he chose the ten commandments - everything in its' time.

Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (3) Sep 28, 2012
I'd like to see a picture of Nibiru before it comes to reset earth's clock.


It's only less than 3 months till December 21. Nibiru would need to be moving like 10 times faster than a comet to get here in time.


All things are possible.


Not if it is orbit.

Nibiru is entirely mythical, it was supposed to have arrived a decade ago. "Nancy" made a fortune out of propagating the nonsense and got her cult followers to "donate" their houses to her to "cleanse their souls", or so the net has it.
RealScience
2 / 5 (3) Sep 28, 2012

The Bible is a fascinating read, but one needs to take into consideration the mentality "level" of the people at the time of the writing and also at the time of the actions described in the Bible. eg: God could have sent quantum physics down to Moses, but the people weren't ready for that.


So would you agree the seven 'days' of creation could well be seven 'eras' of creation, and the way that what Christians call 'God' created the various life forms could have been evolution?
ScooterG
1 / 5 (6) Oct 01, 2012
So would you agree the seven 'days' of creation could well be seven 'eras' of creation


I suppose it's possible we mis-understand the definition of "day" as it is used in the Bible.

and the way that what Christians call 'God' created the various life forms could have been evolution?


Not a snowballs' chance in Hell. As I said, I'm a creationist. I do not believe life evolved from random collisions of nothing that allowed something of incredible complexity to form. There are not enough numbers in the universe to calculate the odds of random collisions of elements turning into a life form - even a single-cell amoeba.

Until someone presents a fossilized record of a creature with a partially-developed eye, evolution is DRT. And if you need further convincing, study the marvels of the human endocrine system, then tell me it all "just happened by chance".
RealScience
5 / 5 (1) Oct 01, 2012
@Scooter - You seem to miss that it is natural selection that is the driver of evolution, not 'random' mutations (which just provide material for natural selection to work on).

Randomness can have predictable consequences - every time I breathe, air molecules rush in, even though the individual molecules bounce around pretty randomly. And water erodes complex mountain ranges even though water molecules bounce around pretty randomly.

Life has evolved to evolve - to have few mutations in fundamental areas of the genome (e.g., HOX genes), and relatively more in areas where variety is beneficial (leg length, for example).

And there are plenty of creatures without full eyes that do have light-sensitive proteins and even specialized light-processing cells (e.g. brittlestars)- there are several parts of an eye for you.

Evolution is creative - the only computer algorithms to create patentable innovations are genetic algorithms that evolve those innovations through mutation and selection!
ScooterG
1 / 5 (6) Oct 02, 2012
@Scooter - You seem to miss that it is natural selection that is the driver of evolution, not 'random' mutations (which just provide material for natural selection to work on).


I believe in natural selection. And I believe living organisms evolve to some extent due to external influences. But I believe life itself was created by design. If a creature evolves from there, that too is by design.

As Katsumoto said in The Last Samurai "It is beyond my understanding".

The Bible advises us to have faith, and even to believe in those things that aren't as though they are. This is the course I choose to live, even though much of what happens around me is "beyond my understanding".

Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (1) Oct 02, 2012
I believe in natural selection. And I believe living organisms evolve to some extent due to external influences. But I believe life itself was created by design. If a creature evolves from there, that too is by design.


In that case the area where you see a relevant gap in between your beliefs and science is the step from the large molecules seen in nebulae produced by ultraviolet interactions and condensation to the simplest self-replicating molecules in our oceans. Sadly they generally don't leave fossils, there is going to be a gap between those and the first stromatolites, but you are only creating a "god of the gaps" argument.

However, don't you think this is drifting off the topic of the article, the discussion might be more appropriate in another forum.
ScooterG
1 / 5 (6) Oct 02, 2012
Sadly they generally don't leave fossils, there is going to be a gap between those and the first stromatolites, but you are only creating a "god of the gaps" argument.

It was never my intention to argue anything. I believe what I believe, and if there appears to be a gap somewhere, I accept it as simply a shortcoming on my part. I don't need nor expect to know all the answers at this point in my life, hence the faith I spoke of earlier.

If a person is looking for a reason not to believe in a creator, he/she will find that reason. And conversely, it is easy to find reason to believe. To me, the glass is waaaaay more than half full.

Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (3) Oct 02, 2012
Sadly they generally don't leave fossils, there is going to be a gap between those and the first stromatolites, but you are only creating a "god of the gaps" argument.


It was never my intention to argue anything.


Sometimes passing remarks have unintended consequences when threads drift.
RealScience
not rated yet Oct 02, 2012
@ScooterG -
Even systems without heritability can produce tremendous complexity from simple inputs - looks at mountain ranges, coastlines, galaxies, sunsets. Add in things that can inherit complexity for a starting point, such as technologies, languages, genes, species and ecosystems, and it is amazing what beauty arises from variation plus selection.

Life has had a long time to evolve from a molecular ecosystem into self-contained cells, then into complex cells and then into multi-cellular creatures, and along the way it evolved the ability to evolve better and better. So in spite of the awe I have for the beauty and complexity of life (or, to get back to the origin of this thread, all of those galaxies), I do not see the need for a supernatural being to explain the complexity.
ScooterG
1 / 5 (6) Oct 02, 2012
@ScooterG -
Even systems without heritability can produce tremendous complexity from simple inputs - looks at mountain ranges, coastlines, galaxies, sunsets. Add in things that can inherit complexity for a starting point, such as technologies, languages, genes, species and ecosystems, and it is amazing what beauty arises from variation plus selection.



We are talking about life, not inanimate objects. Explain where this "inherited complexity" comes from that gives life to an organism. If you can explain it, then it must be duplicable in a lab environment - has that ever been done?
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (1) Oct 02, 2012
If you can explain it, then it must be duplicable in a lab environment - has that ever been done?
Some experiments with running droplets are rather close to behavior of some primitive living organisms. The self propelling droplets follow surprisingly many criterions/aspects of organic life - so I even integrated them into my ideas of the spontaneous life formation and theory of homochirality of life. BTW the fact, some experiment in this direction was not done yet doesn't mean, it cannot be done just tomorrow.
RealScience
5 / 5 (1) Oct 02, 2012
@ScooterG - not everything explainable is duplicatable. Some things take too much time, some take too much space, etc. We have a pretty good understandings of how stars, black holes and galaxies form, yet we cannot assemble any of these in a laboratory...

Given a planet-sized laboratory with an ocean of pre-biotic soup such as many 'early-earth' experiments have produced, and mountains of 'white smokers' for a porous cell-sized matrix and a ready-made proton gradient, and we can try the experiment on the same scale as the earth did.
Within a geological blink of an eye (a few tens of millions of year, and possibly much faster), we should have life!

Even without having such resources at our disposal, we have none-the-less made good progress chipping away at the challenge, although much remains to be done.

Picture an ecosystem of RNA molecules, some of which concentrate amino acids that float by, some of which imperfectly copy RNA stands that float by. And read about white smokers!
ScooterG
1 / 5 (6) Oct 02, 2012
@ ValeriaT and RealScience

Good luck building life. If God wants it to happen, it will happen. Have faith.

RealScience
5 / 5 (1) Oct 02, 2012
I will have faith - not in any given answer, but in the process of gaining knowledge through experimentation and analysis. It has produced amazing results over the past few centuries, and I see no reason why it won't solve the remaining riddles of life's origins.
At the current accelerating pace of knowledge, I might even live long enough to see it!
ScooterG
1 / 5 (6) Oct 03, 2012

At the current accelerating pace of knowledge, I might even live long enough to see it!


You might indeed live that long.
Science does not always have to be at odds with religion. Actually, the two often-times compliment each other.

You are correct, it does help to keep an open mind. Who's to say that "prayer", as described in the Bible, is not quantum physics simplified? or maybe radionics simplified? Even as advanced as we are, we still know very little about our universe - we are generating more questions than answers.

Suggest you not dismiss Christianity just because the answers are not apparent or because the Bible was not written so-as to address our advanced mental state. The stakes are high - eternity is a long, long time.
troglodyte
5 / 5 (3) Oct 06, 2012
In view of this absolute aw, how come people still waste time dwelling on a totally irrelevant subject such as religion?
The depth of this image just confirms the breadth of our own ignorance and the size of our insignificance in the universe. We'd better focus on overcoming our cluelessness instead, while the clock is still ticking, for our very own sake, before mankind self-destructs, before it's too late, for KNOWLEDGE has certainly remained as the ONLY TOOL capable of setting us free and keeping us around alive as mankind.