Astronomers stitch Hubble's hits into 'Legacy Deep Field' image

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Not unlike the photos in your family album, this panorama of galactic history contains old galaxies and infants, well-established worlds and - unavoidably - an occasional train wreck.

This new image combines observations from a number of Hubble deep-field surveys that have been taken across 16 years and the team behind it spent no less than 250 days to bring it to life.

NASA astronomers assembled 16 years' worth of Hubble Space Telescope observations in one stunning image. Numerous galaxies represented in the mosaic expand to some 500 million years after the Big Bang when Universe was in its infancy and planets were just commencing to form.

The leader of the team which was responsible for the creation of the image and a researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Garth Illingworth said in a statement that compared to previous surveys this piece of information is more vast, and they can take advantage of Hubble's huge dataset in order to be more aware of the galaxies that are out of reach. From the darkness, worlds emerged.

The deep-sky mosaic provides a wide portrait of the distant universe, containing 200,000 galaxies that stretch back through 13.3 billion years of time to just 500 million years after the Big Bang. The first of these surveys was the 1995 Hubble Deep Field survey, followed by the 2004 Hubble Ultra Deep Field and the 2012 Hubble eXtreme Deep Field.

The image is the end result of a project to combine data from 31 Hubble programs carried out by different teams of astronomers.

The upcoming NASA/ESA James Webb Space Telescope will allow astronomers to push much deeper into the legacy field to reveal how the infant galaxies developed over time.

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The Legacy Field shows a wider view of about 30 times as many galaxies as in the previous deep fields.

The Hubble Telescope remains one of mankind's most powerful tools for exploring the universe, even 29 years into its mission.

Meanwhile, the HLF team is working on a second set of images, that will include more than 5,200 Hubble images from another area of the sky.

Since then, astronauts have flown out to Hubble several times to make repairs, upgrade cameras, and install new hardware, improving the observatory's view of deep space. Hubble has spent more time on this tiny area than on any other region of the sky, totaling more than 250 days, representing almost three-quarters of a year.

Researchers will continue adding to and improving the picture with new Hubble observations as long as the telescope is operational.

The Hubble observes ultraviolet wavelengths, which the atmosphere filters out, and it collects visible light.

It can pick up on light via its "eyes", which are five times more focused than ground-based telescopes.