Hubble finds unseen galaxies with new super-deep photos of the universe

NASA's Hubble telescope has taken its deepest ever picture of a cluster of galaxies, revealing some of the faintest and youngest galaxies ever detected.

(Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Lotz, M. Mountain, A. Koekemoer and the HFF Team)

NASA's Hubble telescope has taken its deepest ever picture of a cluster of galaxies, revealing some of the faintest and youngest galaxies ever detected.

Looking at deep space photos is more than an exercise in viewing patterns of light and colour: you're also looking back in time. Way, way back in time. For example, the image you see above — which also happens to be the deepest ever photo taken of a cluster of galaxies — shows the Abell 2744, or Pandora Cluster, as it would have appeared 3.5 billion years ago.

The long-exposure image was taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, and was revealed today at the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington DC.

The image contains severeal thousand galaxies, with the gravity of the cluster in the front (consisting of a few hundred galaxies) providing what is known as a "gravitational lens" to bend the light from the source to magnify and brighten the galaxies behind, making them clearer to the camera — 10 to 20 times larger than they would normally appear.

This effect was predicted by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

It was captured as part of a project called The Frontier Fields, a collaboration between NASA and astronomers to perform public deep-field observations centred on six strong lensing galaxy clusters.

"The Frontier Fields is an experiment; can we use Hubble's exquisite image quality and Einstein's theory of General Relativity to search for the first galaxies?" Space Telescope Science Institute Director Matt Mountain said. "With the other Great Observatories, we are undertaking an ambitious joint program to use galaxy clusters to explore the first billion years of the universe's history."

The Spitzer Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory are also included in the project.

The Hubble image shows nearly 3000 background galaxies, usually invisible, magnified by gravitational lensing. Some of the images appear stretched, smeared or duplicated, but the image nevertheless reveals new details. For example, astronomers have identified dwarf galaxies smaller than 1/1000 the mass of the Milky Way, as well as extended light from monster galaxies as big as 100 times the size of the Milky Way.

This data will be used by astronomers to study the origin and evolution of galaxies and black holes, as well as map dark matter in detail by charting its distorting effects on visible background light.

You can click on the image below to see the photo full size (or as full as the web allows), and more photos and data on the Hubble website.

Click on the image to open full size in a new tab.
(Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Lotz, M. Mountain, A. Koekemoer and the HFF Team)

Via hubblesite.org

Tags:
About the author

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

CNET's Christmas Gift Guide

'Tis the season for a gadget upgrade

Check out these 9 tablets you'll want to bring home for the holidays.