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Beyond the "Hubble Deep Field" --First Galaxies of the Universe Detected





At some stage after its birth in the big bang, the universe began create galaxies. No one knows exactly when, or how, this occurred. For that matter, astronomers do not know how the lineages of our own Milky Way galaxy and its stars trace back to those first galaxies and their first stars, but astronomers have been working hard to find out.

The Hubble Space Telescope announced in 1996 that it had stared at apparently dark sky for ten days at optical wavelengths, long enough to acquire a picture of the very distant universe. The resultant iconic image, the Hubble Deep Field (HDF), reveals galaxies that are so far away that they existed when the universe was less than about 5% of its present age of 14 billion years.

The faintest and reddest objects in the image above are likely the oldest galaxies ever identified, having formed between only 600–900 million years after the Big Bang. The image shows thousands of galaxies, some more than 12 billion years old. The field view of this image would fit behind a grain of sand held at arm's length against the sky. Almost every dot in this photo is an entire galaxy of stars and who knows what fascinating undiscovered mysteries.

Astronomers use this photo to estimate the number of galaxies in the known universe by counting the visible galaxies shown and multiplying the number of such photos it would take to make a composite of the entire sky. Their calculations estimate that the observable universe contains about 100 billion galaxies. 

Since 1996 astronomers have been working to understand exactly what kinds of galaxies these remote objects are, and whether they bear any resemblance to our own Milky Way galaxy, either as it is now, or as it was when it was younger.

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (cFa) astronomers along with an international team of colleagues, have just completed an unbiased, deep survey of the distant universe at infrared wavelength using the Infrared Array Camera on the Spitzer Space Telescope. The largest Spitzer science program to date, this survey explored the universe at a depth and over a large field of view never before achieved – nearly six times the area of the full moon and much larger than the original Hubble image.

The survey detected galaxies as small in mass as 15% of the Milky Way, and so far away that their light has been traveling for over 12.7 billion years, over 90% of the age of the universe. Within the wide field the team discovered more than 300,000 galaxies. The new results address four major research goals: a study of galaxy evolution across this dramatic time span, the detection of galaxies with active supermassive black holes at their nuclei in this volume, and variable emission from such nuclei (thanks to the way the survey was executed, with repeated visits to the same regions of the sky to spot changes).

Moreover, this deep, wide field allowed the team to study not only galaxies, but the infrared emission from the sky "between" these sources, the so-called diffuse component. Remarkably, the study found that while nearly half of the cosmic infrared light comes from distant galaxies, the other half comes from this diffuse background component whose origin is still not known, though some speculate that it may include light from ensemble of even smaller galaxies. This legacy survey will provide a basis for new research activity for years to come.

The famous Hubble deep field of galaxies as seen below in the infrared at a wavelength of 3.6 microns. The new SEDS project that has observed this region has also studied many other deep extragalactic fields, covering a total area nearly six times that of the full moon.



The Daily Galaxy via Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics


idont think theyre seeing galaxies made right after the big bang. y assume that? i think were just seeing more galaxies like our own and others in our area. how can scientist look in any direction at all and assume thats the direction of the oldest galaxies. in ten years when a new scope sees further then theyll see even more common galaxies much alike wat we see everywhere around us. the big bang i think is just a reaction that the galaxy goes through at the end/begining of its processes. there is no begining and there is no end... for us yes! sbut for the universe no... we look for a meaning too all this when there isnt one. life grows and dies in the universe. the universe is the only immortal.....

Quote: "The faintest and reddest objects in the image above are likely the oldest galaxies ever identified, having formed between only 600–900 million years after the Big Bang".

AD: Faintest, reddest and farthest doesn´t mean oldest. Faintest does just mean that telescopes cannot measure that far away. Reddest doesn´t mean anything else than light disperse when meeting matter and particles.

So all in all, the measurements are just temporary truths accordingly to some incomplete theories, especially to the strange and purely speculative Big Bang idea where everything supposedly should come from nothing.

All natural observations tell us that everything for ever is changing and reformatting in cycles.

Yeah, I don't get it either..Isn't the Milky Way supposed to be 12 odd billion years old, with certain very ancient stars proving it? If that is the case, then surely the BB happened everywhere?

Clearly "nick" you don't know the meanings of the light. Red means it is the farthest, and hence the oldest because the Universe is in a constant expansionary phase, and light stretches along with it. When light is stretched due to the expansion of the Universe, it means its wavelengths stretch. Longer wavelengths emit reddish light, hence the light that is at the end of the long-wave spectrum is infrared, where as the other end is ultraviolet (shorter wavelengths). Light that has expanded less means it is closer to us (and has short wavelengths instead), and in the images like the one on this article, this will be reflected by a more violet or bluish color. This means that these galaxies are closer to us and hence not that old. In this case nick, length does determine age; thus far it is an excellent measurement. You should look more into what I am saying so you can see for yourself.

As far as the Big Bang comments, I have my doubts too...but remember that is still only a theory (best one so far), that is accepted until proven otherwise.

Now, is the Universe immortal? You seem to think so, but I really don't know. In my opinion however, "everything that has a beginning must have an end", so if the Universe did 'begin' through the BB like scientists claim, then it must have an end, whether its thousands, millions or even a billion years from now. Again this only my opinion but scientists speculate that, eventually, the Universe might expand so much (because it expands at a faster rate as time passes) that light will not reach us enough to keep us warm and hence the Universe will end up frozen. The other theory is that, somehow, this expansionary phase stops and the Universe starts contracting instead (that would be kind of like going to the past right?) until eventually the Universe ends up in an explosion or "fire" because it will shrink so much that it won't contain itself for too long. So the Universe will go back to how it was, the point of "singularity" according to scientists who believe it all started there before the BB.

Hope this gives you some insight into what I have been saying as well as motivates you to look further into this topic. You should do some research first before making comments like the one you just did about scientists not knowing how old the Universe is and then blaming it on the telescope. So it is not about the "scope", it is about the color that these galaxies emit through light that helps scientists determine (approximately of course) their length and hence age. And yes in ten-years time the telescopes will be better but they will just give us a sharper/clearer image, the color of the lights will remain the same; what might change is that we might see more "hidden red", meaning that we will discover even more galaxies that are even farther (older) than the ones that are currently being discovered today. These will simply be red light emissions that we just could not spot today because they were just very dim but will be able to spot tomorrow through better technology.

We are mortal beings. Our lives are linear and each of us have had a beginning and will have an end. Because of this, we -in the west- tend to interpret the world in the same way; we assume the Universe had a beginning, and therefore, will also have an end.

To my mind this has been -and remains- a major handicap of our western culture, marinated as we are in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the millenarian concepts of ‘the end of time’ dwell within us -whether we think we embrace them or not.

The belief in the so-called Big Bang remains high in the west precisely because it conforms to this anthropomorphic principle; if we must come to an end then we demand that everything else must end too. Such children we are!

The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Mayans, the Hindus -to name but a few, all considered time to be cyclical & without end, yet this idea still remains a provocation to our western sensibilities. Perhaps the idea of a infinite Universe -a place with no beginning nor end- will always remain anathema to us.

“the whole world is a harmless enigma made terrible by our mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.” Umberto Eco

I think the big news here is that the HST became self-aware in 1996. And learned to talk.

"The Hubble Space Telescope announced in 1996 that it had stared at apparently dark sky for ten days at optical wavelengths, long enough to acquire a picture of the very distant universe."

To Ruth about the Solar System | April 14, 2013 at 06:09 AM

Can you not See in the Image above that the light exists of even white and blue components? Even this farthest picture ever taken! This would NEVER have been possible when ongoing theories would have been true.

Are you not Aware this means that a big bang universe does NOT exist?

At this distance all light should by hubblelaw even be at least into the far red IF any expansion would happen.

NOTICE every claimed redshift is NOT present!

So hubblelaw IS invalide!

This also means dark matter does NOT exist! And MUCH MORE Can be Concluded like the NON existense of quantummechanics and heisenberg´s theorie because there is NO accumulation of claimed quantumdistorsions in the Light. As ALL of einstein IS INVALIDE because the more than 13 billion years through millions of gravityfields did do NOTHING to the Light!

So also gravitylenses do not exist and are gas and dustclouds.

You LOOK AT PROOF and the mind does not follow?
Also the earlier Better resolution hubbledeepfield shows same Evidence.

One could even question IF higgsfields and free higgsbosons exist WHEN Light seems to be able to travel more than 13 billion years undamaged through Space. A space full of appearing and disappearing particles likely would avoid that and absorb all light in such space of time.

Btw they calculated the claimed expansion of the universe with gaslaws but the Universe IS EMPTYNESS and nothing can expand or is even a gas at it. So as einstein already is deseast any singularity and bend piece of space can join him.

Hawking's theory of virtual particle/antiparticle pairs was just a convenient way of explaining his calculations showing that black holes lose mass over time. CERN's discovery of the Higgs field and Higgs boson may, if true, replace that theory. If a black hole affects or negates the Higgs field, particles entering the hole might become mass-less, and therefore, escape.

Superscientist's misunderstanding of the Hubble Deep Field photo is caused by his apparent belief that all the galaxies in the photo were there, in the same positions, at the same time. They were not. Gravitational lensing would only occur if that were true, and light traveled at infinite speed, which, of course, it doesn't.

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