X

Looking back 13.2 billion years into the universe (pictures)

Combining 2,000 images shot over the past 10 years, Hubble Space Telescope's eXtreme Deep Field captures more than 5,500 galaxies in a tiny field of view -- some date back to 450 million years after Big Bang.

james-martin-profile-crop
james-martin-profile-crop
James Martin
James Martin is the Managing Editor of Photography at CNET. His photos capture technology's impact on society - from the widening wealth gap in San Francisco, to the European refugee crisis and Rwanda's efforts to improve health care. From the technology pioneers of Google and Facebook, photographing Apple's Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Google's Sundar Pichai, to the most groundbreaking launches at Apple and NASA, his is a dream job for any documentary photography and journalist with a love for technology. Exhibited widely, syndicated and reprinted thousands of times over the years, James follows the people and places behind the technology changing our world, bringing their stories and ideas to life.
James Martin
heic1214a_1.jpeg
1 of 4 NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch, R. Bouwens, and the HUDF09 Team

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field

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 more than 2 million seconds of exposure time, NASA says it's 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 Hubble eXtreme Deep Field image contains several of the most distant objects ever identified, making it the deepest image of the Universe ever taken.
heic1214b_1.jpeg
2 of 4 NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch, R. Bouwens, and the HUDF09 Team

Some of the most distant objects ever identified

The Hubble eXtreme Deep Field image contains several of the most distant objects ever identified.

Among these, NASA says, are:

• UDFj-39546284, at a redshift of 10.3, is a candidate for the most distant galaxy yet discovered, though it is awaiting spectroscopic confirmation;
• Supernova Primo, at a redshift of 1.55, the most distant type Ia supernova ever observed;
• UDFy-38135539, at a redshift of 8.6, is the most distant galaxy to have had its distance independently corroborated with spectroscopy;
• UDFy-33435698, at a redshift of 8.6.
heic1214c.jpeg
3 of 4 NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch, R. Bouwens, Z. Levay and the HUDF09 Team

The Hubble eXtreme Deep Field and the distances of objects within it

The galaxies in the XDF are not close together -- this image separates out the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field by the distances of objects within it, NASA says.

The most distant objects within the XDF are more than 95 percent of the way back to the Big Bang, while a few stars in it are within the Milky Way -- 13.2 billion years ago.

In the left pane are the closest objects -- whose light has taken less than 5 billion years to reach us. In the center pane are objects whose light has taken 5 to 9 billion years to reach us, and in the right pane are objects whose light has taken more than 9 billion years to reach us, with the furthest of those having existed just 450 million years after the universe’s birth in the Big Bang, NASA explains.
heic1214d.jpeg
4 of 4 NASA, ESA, Z. Levay, T. Rector, I. Dell'Antonio/NOAO/AURA/NSF, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch, R. Bouwens and the HUDF09 Team

The image covers just a 30 millionth of the whole sky

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 5,500 galaxies, some of them so distant that we see them when the universe was less than 5 percent of its current age.

More Galleries

My Favorite Shots From the Galaxy S24 Ultra's Camera
A houseplant

My Favorite Shots From the Galaxy S24 Ultra's Camera

20 Photos
Honor's Magic V2 Foldable Is Lighter Than Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra
magic-v2-2024-foldable-1383

Honor's Magic V2 Foldable Is Lighter Than Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra

10 Photos
The Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus Looks Sweet in Aluminum
Samsung Galaxy S24

The Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus Looks Sweet in Aluminum

23 Photos
Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra Now Has a Titanium Design
The Galaxy S24 Ultra in multiple colors

Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra Now Has a Titanium Design

23 Photos
I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites
img-0368.jpg

I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites

34 Photos
17 Hidden iOS 17 Features and Settings on Your iPhone
Invitation for the Apple September iPhone 15 event

17 Hidden iOS 17 Features and Settings on Your iPhone

18 Photos
AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?
img-1599-2.jpg

AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?

17 Photos