The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Hubble space telescope has captured the deepest ever view of the universe, a photograph showing galaxies going back almost to the beginning of time.
Hubble’s latest view of the universe, called the eXtreme Deep Field, or XDF, is a photograph combining 10 years of data and showing about 5,500 galaxies, the oldest of which is about 13.2 billion years old, NASA said. The universe is estimated to be about 13.7 billion years old.
"The XDF is the deepest image of the sky ever obtained and reveals the faintest and most distant galaxies ever seen,” said Garth Illingworth of the University of California at Santa Cruz, a scientist working on the project. “XDF allows us to explore further back in time than ever before.”
NASA described the XDF photograph as a “time tunnel into the distant past,” explaining that the light from those distant galaxies was “just arriving at the earth now.” It said one of the galaxies in the photograph existed just 450 million years after the universe began with the big bang.
The Hubble telescope was put in Earth's orbit in 1990 by a NASA space shuttle in cooperation with the European Space Agency. It is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland just outside Washington D.C.
Before Hubble, astronomers using an Earth-based telescope could see galaxies up to 7 billion light years away, or about half way across the known universe.