LOOK: Photo Captures Perhaps Most Revealing Image of Space
The photo above shows one of the most colorful images ever captured of space. Astronomers used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to capture a composite image of the evolving universe.
It shows ultraviolet rays not usually visible to human eyes, and captures about 10,000 galaxies located about five to 10 billion light years away. Researchers are using the images to show how stars are formed.
Below, read more about the image in the NASA press release and check out a YouTube video of the extraordinary findings.
Researchers say the image, in new study called the Ultraviolet Coverage of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, provides the missing link in star formation. The Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2014 image is a composite of separate exposures taken in 2003 to 2012 with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Camera 3.
Astronomers previously studied the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) in visible and near-infrared light in a series of images captured from 2003 to 2009. The HUDF shows a small section of space in the southern-hemisphere constellation Fornax. Now, using ultraviolet light, astronomers have combined the full range of colors available to Hubble, stretching all the way from ultraviolet to near-infrared light. The resulting image -- made from 841 orbits of telescope viewing time -- contains approximately 10,000 galaxies, extending back in time to within a few hundred million years of the big bang.
Ultraviolet light comes from the hottest, largest and youngest stars. By observing at these wavelengths, researchers get a direct look at which galaxies are forming stars and where the stars are forming within those galaxies.
Studying the ultraviolet images of galaxies in this intermediate time period enables astronomers to understand how galaxies grew in size by forming small collections of very hot stars. Because Earth's atmosphere filters most ultraviolet light, this work can only be accomplished with a space-based telescope.
"Ultraviolet surveys like this one using the unique capability of Hubble are incredibly important in planning for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope," said team member Dr. Rogier Windhorst of Arizona State University in Tempe. "Hubble provides an invaluable ultraviolet light dataset that researchers will need to combine with infrared data from Webb. This is the first really deep ultraviolet image to show the power of that combination."