UVa Astronomy News Picture Archive

March 2011

Picture of the Month

This is a small extract from a huge mosaic of images of the deep universe. The original mosaic was assembled from hundreds of exposures taken with the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) on the Hubble Space Telescope. More than 12 billion years of cosmic history are shown in this unprecedented, panoramic, full-color view of thousands of galaxies stretching back through most of the universe's history, covering a portion of the southern field of a large galaxy census called the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS). Such a detailed view of the universe has never before been assembled with this much color, clarity, accuracy, and depth. The closest galaxies, seen in the foreground, emitted their observed light about a billion years ago. The farthest galaxies, a few of the very faint red specks, are seen as they appeared more than 13 billion years ago, or roughly 650 million years after the Big Bang. Ultraviolet light taken by WFC3 shows the blue glow of hot, young stars in galaxies teeming with star birth. The orange light reveals the final buildup of massive galaxies about 8 billion to 10 billion years ago. The near-infrared light displays the red glow of very distant galaxies---in a few cases as far as 12 to 13 billion light-years away---whose light has been stretched, from ultraviolet light to longer-wavelength infrared light due to the expansion of the universe.

Click here for the full-size mosaic (6 MB file)

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)

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