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Starts With A Bang

Astronomers Push The Limits Of Hubble

By combining Hubble data with other views from great, space-based observatories, we’re shedding new light on the Universe.

“The wonder is, not that the field of stars of so vast, but that man has measured it.” –Anatole France

If you could gather about 250 million times as much light as your eyes do and see thousands of times as sharply, then a region of the sky no larger than a thin crescent Moon might reveal a view like thta shown above. Taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, the image above is part of NASA’s Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS), the first step in NASA’s CANDELS program.

Image credit: NASA, ESA, the GOODS Team and M. Giavalisco (STScI/University of Massachusetts), of a region of the GOODS field with a large number of dwarf galaxies, an important contributor to star formation.

By looking back in time to the farthest regions of the Universe in many different wide-field views, scientists probe how star-and-galaxy formation grows, peaks and declines in the Universe.

Image credit: NASA, ESA, A. van der Wel (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy), H. Ferguson and A. Koekemoer (Space Telescope Science Institute), and the CANDELS team, of a region containing 18 galaxies forming stars so quickly that the number of stars inside will double in just 10 million years: just 0.1% the lifetime of the Universe.

These surveys were instrumental in determining that the Universe becomes reionized and transparent to visible light about 550 million years after the Big Bang, and that star formation reaches a maximum about 2.5 billion years later. Since then, even as new galaxies and stars form, the total number of new stars steadily declines.

Image credit: ESO/M. Hayes, of a region of the GOODS field imaged by both Hubble and multiple instruments aboard the ESO’s Very Large Telescope.

Hubble observations are then combined with X-ray, ultraviolet, and infrared observations from other great observatories, teaching us about black holes, neutral matter, and objects with extreme redshifts.

Images credit: NASA, ESA, R. Windhorst, S. Cohen, M. Mechtley, and M. Rutkowski (Arizona State University, Tempe), R. O’Connell (University of Virginia), P. McCarthy (Carnegie Observatories), N. Hathi (University of California, Riverside), R. Ryan (University of California, Davis), H. Yan (Ohio State University), and A. Koekemoer (Space Telescope Science Institute), of tiny, detailed segments of the GOODS field as imaged by Hubble.

When the James Webb Space Telescope flies, it will push these frontiers back even further, shedding light on our true cosmic origins.

Mostly Mute Monday tells the story of a single astronomical phenomenon or object in visuals, images and video in no more than 200 words.

This post first appeared at Forbes. Leave your comments on our forum, check out our first book: Beyond The Galaxy, and support our Patreon campaign!


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