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Starts With A Bang

Hubble’s shining view of deep space beyond the stars

The first ultra-deep, ultra-wide field view of the Universe heralded what the 2010s would bring.


“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” –Edgar Allan Poe

From any point on Earth’s surface, a clear night sky reveals a treasure trove of stars and deep-sky objects.

Landmarks of the southern skies, along with the location of the GOODS-S ERS field. Image credit: A. Fujii; illustration by NASA, ESA, and Z. Levay (STScI).

Through a powerful telescope, billions of objects become visible, from stars and nebulae to the galaxies beyond our own.

A ground-based view of the region of sky containing the GOODS-S ERS field, from the Digitized Sky Survey. Image credit: Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO.

With the success of the Hubble deep fields in revealing distant, hitherto unseen galaxies, 2010 brought a new camera and a new ambition.

Galaxies from the present day to when the Universe was just 5% of its current age are all visible together in this stunning view of the Universe. Image 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).

The installation of the Wide Field Camera 3 enabled simultaneously large, deep views of space as never before.

Cosmic rarities, like merging galaxies (top) and gravitational lensing phenomena (middle) can be seen at various points in the image. Image 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). Image was cropped and enhanced by E. Siegel, and credits are the same for the rest of the images in this post.

The Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS) began with this 2010 mosaic, which stitched together hundreds of images in visible and infrared light.

Diffraction spikes indicate stars within the Milky Way, with vastly more distant galaxies visible in the abyss beyond.

Bright objects with diffraction spikes are stars within our own galaxy; everything else imaged is a galaxy beyond our own.

The largest galaxies may be massive, but appear large because of their proximity to us, not because of their intrinsic mass.

The largest-appearing galaxies aren’t intrinsically big, but rather are close, appearing larger on the sky.

The bluest galaxies indicate new, rapid star formation, while the reddest ones are located more than 10 billion light years away.

The bluest galaxies house intense star formation, while the reddest galaxies appear so because the expanding Universe stretches the light’s wavelength.

Some regions of this mosaic clearly demonstrate a total dearth of foreground, Milky Way stars. These regions provide the best windows into the distant Universe.

Although over 7,500 galaxies were uncovered in this mosaic, over ten times as many are likely yet to be seen.

As many galaxies are revealed here are just the brightest and most easily seen ones. Less than 10% of what’s out there is revealed by GOODS; deeper, infrared telescopes like JWST are required to view the rest.

The upcoming James Webb Space Telescope will reveal the Universe even more deeply.


Mostly Mute Monday tells the story of an astronomical object or phenomenon with extraordinary visuals in no more than 200 words.

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