If you want to know what the Universe is like, you have to look at it in the right way.
Only by observing it can we know what the Universe is like.
Looking in (mostly) visible light, like Hubble does, reveals wholly impressive sights.
But Hubble’s views are fundamentally limited in two ways.
First, this light can only reveal objects where intervening dust is absent.
Second, Hubble’s views are deep, but are extremely narrow-field.
As a result, only a few patches of sky possess deep, revealing views.
Hubble excels at revealing “individual trees.”
But “the larger forest” encompasses grander perspectives.
Only deep, wider-field views will suffice.
Infrared light — which is largely transparent to light-blocking dust — is ideal for this task.
NASA’s Spitzer, which operated from 2003–2020, first revealed a full square degree to unprecedented depths.
On large, cosmic scales, every point in these images represents its own galaxy.
S-CANDELS, a follow-up to the original Spitzer Extended Deep Survey (SEDS), went even deeper.
Quadrupling the original SEDS observing time, exposed galaxies trace the cosmic web.
Across 13 billion years of cosmic history, galaxies are clustered, rather than distributed randomly.
It’ll require hundreds of James Webb observations, stitched together, to match S-CANDELS.
Appreciate the enormity of the Universe. It encompasses everything we know.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.
Starts With A Bang is written by Ethan Siegel, Ph.D., author of Beyond The Galaxy, and Treknology: The Science of Star Trek from Tricorders to Warp Drive.