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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.

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James Martin
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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