Astronomers have captured a record number of 265,000 galaxies in one image. The photo was compiled using observations made by the Hubble space telescope over the past sixteen years. Dutch astronomers Rychard Bouwens and Marijn Franx from Leiden University also contributed to the creation of the photo.
The so-called Hubble Legacy Field contains galaxies from up to 500 million years after the Big Bang. The weakest and furthest systems have a brightness of one ten billionth of what the human eye can see.
The photo is made up of almost 7,500 individual shots. Before that, Hubble's gaze was focused on a small area in the sky for a total of 250 days.
According to Bouwens, who also works at Leiden Observatory, Hubble can observe so many galaxies through the "many sensitive color channels that are now available to observe distant galaxies, especially in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum".
This means that astronomers can better distinguish old and new stars.
Project relies on earlier observations by Hubble
In the past, astronomers have already compiled such an image full of galaxies several times, and each time the Hubble looked deeper into the universe, and with it further into the past.
It started in 1995 with the Hubble Deep Field project, in which several thousand, previously unknown, galaxies were captured in one image.
Hubble Ultra Deep Field continued in 2004 with a photo taken in 1995 and succeeded in capturing some ten thousand systems in one image. Hubble eXtreme Deep Field then took over in 2012, for which the Hubble stared at the same area in the universe for ten years.
The new photo of Hubble Legacy Field is again composed of the above images. The team is now working on a second image, which will consist of more than 5,200 Hubble images.