Dec 8, 2009

Farther in Time and Distance Than Humanity Has Ever Seen!

Recently, a shuttle mission was charged with doing the most intricate and exhausting repairs ever done while in "spacewalk" mode. These repairs replaced certain non-functioning components of the Hubble Space Telescope. One of the items replaced was the Wide Field Camera. This is the third Wide Field Camera installed on the Hubble.
One of the most astounding accomplishments of the Hubble were the images called the Hubble Deep Field and the Ultra Deep Field images. These images were taken in 2004 by pointing the Hubble at what appeared to be a relatively empty region of deep space, zooming in, then finding the emptiest part of that deep image, and zooming in yet again. What was found blew the world's mind. More galaxies! Insanity! The Universe is so vast, so confoundingly enormous, that nothing in our human-scale set of reference points can help us visualize it properly. This is the Ultra Deep Field Image.

The first image above was taken this year, at a distance correlating with a time just 800-900 million years after the Big Bang. WOW! (Click on the top image to see the LARGE version. Galaxies, island universes all, abound.)
The photo was taken with the new WFC3/infrared camera on Hubble in late August 2009, during a total of four days of pointing for 173 000 seconds of total exposure time. Infrared light is invisible to the human eye and therefore does not have colours that can be perceived. The representation is "natural" in that shorter infrared wavelengths are represented as blue and the longer wavelengths as red. The faintest objects are about one billion times fainter than the dimmest visible objects seen with the naked eye. - ( Science Daily )

That means that over four days they created a 47 hour exposure! That is some super-faint light! The red-shift on these is immense. To imagine the awe that would be felt by someone such as Copernicus, or even Albert Einstein at these magnificent images. These images say far more about the wonder, skill, and glorious beauty of humanity than most people give them credit for.


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