In total, 7,500 separate exposures went into creating this first Hubble Legacy Field image.
Stretching through 13.3 billion years of time-to 500 million years after the Big Bang-the illustration contains 265,000 galaxies, the faintest and farthest of which are just one ten-billionth the brightness of what the human eye can see. So, the contemporary montage could be utilized to better comprehend the evolution of the universe the astronomers elucidated. Ground-based observations were unable to establish how galaxies formed and evolved in the early Universe. Frequently these types of surveys have engendered unexpected findings which have had a profound influence on our comprehension of galaxy evolution.
"Hubble has looked at this area of the sky many times over many years, and now we have combined all these photographs into a single, very high-quality, wide-angle image".
Not all of the Legacy Field is created equal.
The image, along with the individual exposures that make up the new view, is available to the worldwide astronomical community through the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST).
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.
A second deep-field image, called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, was taken in 2003-2004 after a new camera - the Advanced Camera for Surveys - was installed.
'The Hubble Space Telescope has made some of the most dramatic discoveries in the history of astronomy, ' a statement on the Telescope says. The Hubble eXtreme Deep Field image contains several of the most distant objects ever identified.
The Hubble observes ultraviolet wavelengths, which the atmosphere filters out, and it collects visible light.
"Our goal was to assemble all 16 years of exposures into a legacy image", Dan Magee, the team's data processing lead, from the University of California, Santa Cruz, said in a Hubble press release.
And now, astronomers have woven all those images together into one enormous tapestry, spanning time and space and wavelengths, to give a multi-dimensional view into the distant universe.
But once the superpowerful James Webb Space Telescope launches and enormous new ground observations open, our view of this patch of the night sky - and knowledge about the farthest reaches of space and time - will only improve. It sets the stage for NASA's planned Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope, which will explore an even wider area of space than HLF.
The James Webb Space Telescope, which will give astronomers an even deeper look into the legacy field, is expected to launch in 2021. And until future telescopes come online, it's the sharpest, deepest view astronomers will get of the universe's early days.