Take a look at this image above. It looks like a piece of modern art, or a rather pretty bit of children’s blow-painting. It’s actually the furthest part of the Universe from Earth that the space telescope Hubble has photographed. Incredibly, there are some 5,500 galaxies that are viewable in the full-size image, which to you or me is completely invisible from Earth, a point that is less than a tiny pin-prick in the sky. The objects in this image are an incredible 13.2 billion light years away and the youngest galaxy you can see here was born just 450 million years after the Big Bang. So how did Hubble scientists go about taking this photograph?
Over the course of 50 days, Hubble took 2,000 images of the same patch of sky with a total exposure time of over 2 million seconds using its Advanced Camera for Surveys and the Wide Field Camera 3.
The composite result is the eXtreme Deep Field, the deepest image of the sky anyone has ever taken, “Most of the galaxies in the XDF are seen when they were young, small, and growing, often violently as they collided and merged together,” said NASA’s Garth Illingworth, who was also principal investigator of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2009 (HUDF09) program, “The early universe was a time of dramatic birth for galaxies containing brilliant blue stars extraordinarily 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.'”
Check out the video below to see just how deep into space Hubble was peeking into, and read more about the XDF on the NASA website.