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NASA Science

New Hubble Ultra Deep Field In Infrared 95

Hynee writes "Just in time for Christmas, HubbleSite has released a Hubble Ultra Deep Field redux. The original was in visible light; this version, five years on, is in infrared (1.05, 1.25 and 1.6 um). The observation is in support of the upcoming JWST, which will observe exclusively in infrared, but the newly installed WFC3 does seem to provide some extra resolution over the 2004 visible observations with WFC2."
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New Hubble Ultra Deep Field In Infrared

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  • by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @12:48PM (#30378094) Homepage Journal
    That picture represents a tiny tiny 11 arc-minute square of the sky (according to Wikipedia, it's like looking through a 1mm x 1mm square hole from 1m away) and it is absolutely jam packed with galaxies, each one containing millions of stars.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by nixytech ( 1696798 )
      If that makes you feel tiny then wait till you've finished reading this post!! Now imagine how BIG the alien from MIB must be to play with a marble that contains our galaxy!! Then imagine how much BIGGER the alien would need to be to play with a marble that contained our universe!! Now I feel tiny from writing that and I’m a 20 stone sweat monster!!
    • by ThorofAsgard ( 1644263 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @01:18PM (#30378410)
      If only Carl Sagan were alive to see these new images.
      • by Wargames ( 91725 )

        "Billions and billions and billions...and BILLIONS and Billions....and... and...billions...'

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      To put that into an easier perspective to visualize for people too lazy to check wikipedia before doing the calculations themselves, the width of the image is about 1/10th to 1/8th the diameter of the Moon seen from Earth (depending on when and where you are).

      (Heh, captcha was "abstruse".)

      • by sznupi ( 719324 )

        I don't think that makes things much easier...people have quite subjective perceptions when it comes to the size of Moon.

        • by Tynin ( 634655 )

          I don't think that makes things much easier...people have quite subjective perceptions when it comes to the size of Moon.

          Why would it be subjective? The width would appear to be the same to everyone who looks up at the moon, being 1/8 to 1/10 of the diameter. There is some guessing I suppose to figure out how small that would be, but it is more spatial recognition, nothing subjective... unless I'm misunderstanding what you mean, as what you said was kind of subjective ;-)

    • by Fulseman ( 1031990 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @01:37PM (#30378688)
      Your girlfriends name is Hubble too? What are the odds.
    • by Brad1138 ( 590148 ) <> on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @02:14PM (#30379080)
      It is so nice God took the time to make these Galaxies so we could have light at night. A couple more moons probably would have been easier though.
      • by sznupi ( 719324 )

        Pffff, the old fart decided to scatter billions of billions of stars throughout Universe and didn't give us even small another one in far-spaced binary system.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by PaganRitual ( 551879 )

        You laugh but I told by a pastor once that I should consider the possibilty that all the stars in the sky at night are there because his god loves us to much and wanted to give us something truly beautiful to look at. He said it honestly, like it was what he actually believed. It was really quite sad, or disturbing, or both.

    • by teeloo ( 766817 )
      So how many of these 11 arc-minutes squares are there in the sky? And while you're at it, can you count the number of galaxies and multiply by..... thx.
      • arcminute = 1/60 of one degree
        arcsecond = 1/60 of a arcminute
        milliarcsecond = 1/1000 arcsecond
        microarcsecond = 1 x 10e-6 arcsecond
      • So how many of these 11 arc-minutes squares are there in the sky? ...

        Well, some quick math gives about 25.7 million of this size region to cover the entire sky. (assuming I didn't miss a decimal point

        As far as number of galaxies in the photo, I'll leave that up to you to count. ;)

        • by Zhus ( 1237616 )

          So how many of these 11 arc-minutes squares are there in the sky? ...

          Well, some quick math gives about 25.7 million of this size region to cover the entire sky. (assuming I didn't miss a decimal point

          As far as number of galaxies in the photo, I'll leave that up to you to count. ;)

          I think you may have missed a decimal point or several...

          Assuming we take the night sky to be a hemisphere, it will span 2*Pi steradians in solid angle.

          However one steradian is simply a square radian = (180/Pi)^2 degrees^2 = 3283 square degrees = 97670 (11 arcminutes)^2.


          Putting it all together means that the night sky will span about 614,000 of these 11-arcseond squares.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Cunk ( 643486 )

      The new image is 2.4 arc-minutes wide according to

      • One arc minute is 1/60 of a degree of arc. The angular diameter of the full moon or the Sun as seen from Earth is about 30 arc minutes. This image would be about 1/12 the apparent size of the Sun or the full Moon as seen from Earth.

    • Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is.
    • What remains to be done, is to find an empty patch in this new image and do the same for this "empty" patch. But I guess the equipment is not good enough for another level of depth.
    • I put the new one on top of the old one. XCF here [], you will need tar, bzip2, gimp.

      I can definitely find a few places where the new image has a small spot, while the old one has dark background.

  • Looking at that image leave me with no dought there is life out there,its just too far away to contact or visit :)
  • Need Bigger Hubble! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Favonius Cornelius ( 1691688 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @01:02PM (#30378238)
    The Hubble has a tiny mirror. Imagine what we could see if it was 10m or 20m. We can do it easily! Well ok maybe not easy, but we should do it, no matter the cost.
    • by taricorp ( 987706 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @01:55PM (#30378854) Homepage
      I'm with you that we need bigger space-based telescopes, but I don't think building more in orbit is the best solution. Given the raw material possibilities [] presented by lunar regolith, I could see the energy cost of moving some materials to the far side of the moon being well offset by the lower amount of materials that must be shunted up there by rocket. We may not have the requisite technologies to set up a lunar optical observatory right now, but I'm confident the technologies could be developed fairly quickly, given a concerted effort.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I graduated Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in aerospace engineering. Every year, the senior level Bachelor's students participate in a year long spacecraft design mission. Approximately 30 - 40 students team up to fulfill some mission requirements thought up by a few of the professors. I wasn't able to attend the final design review last year, but I know for a fact that the project they worked on involved setting up a telescope array on the dark side of the moon. I have no doubt that their design probably had so
        • The moral of the story is that if a handful of Bachelor's students can come up with a practical design concept in 9 months, there really is no reason that NASA, JPL, or, hell, even some commercial agency, couldn't set up a full telescope array on the dark side of the moon given proper funding and motivation. Then again, that's the kicker. Grades are great motivation for students. In the real world, someone has to fork over dollars, and people don't like doing that for science anymore....

          Yep, money as usual

      • by G00F ( 241765 )

        I am all for a lunar base for many reasons, not just setting up a lunar base for a telescope, but what about having an array of dishes setup, where the moon would shield all that radio interference that our modern civilization makes?

        Not to mention, I would love to see some futuristic mining and space ship building facilities there.

      • I wonder, would we be better off building it on the side of the Moon facing us as that we we'd still be able to communicate with it via a direct radio link. What advantages would building one on the far side have? A telescope's view of the sky would be the same: away from the Sun. Hmm, (thinking while typing here) but on the near side it would be looking towards Earth. I wonder if that would be a big deal from a light pollution perspective?
        • by bronney ( 638318 )

          the moon rotates around earth, so the "dark" side will get half time facing the sun also. you could go with a dark side dishes setup with satellite around moon setup.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well the 42m mirror E-ELT is coming up
      Too bad they cancelled the 100m OWL, it would have kicked ass
      Besides, it had a much catchier name.

  • somewhere... waiting to enslave us.....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @01:17PM (#30378398)

    That is truly amazing. I've been out of the field for about a decade now since retiring, but when I got my PhD in Astronomy in the 1960s, we never expected to have such fantastic photography of the celestial bodies. This is truly a tremendous accomplishment by all involved.

  • Am I the only one that misread that as "Deep Fried" and expected a completely different kind of story?

  • I guess that at an age of 600 million years there was no life yet in the universe. I wonder at what age life may first have existed, and at what age intelligent life could have evolved. One could imagine a series of 'life bubbles' outside of which no life (or intelligent life) is to be expected.

  • Ahem... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kipsate ( 314423 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @02:00PM (#30378932)
    Perhaps a stupid question, but is 500 million years enough time for all of these spiral galaxies to form?
    • Re:Ahem... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ei4anb ( 625481 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @02:16PM (#30379104)
      not a stupid question at all, it's not enough time for some theories of galaxy formation, given the lack of lumps visible in the cosmic background radiation. However only the furthest galaxies in the view in that image are of that age. There has beem much speculation on the role of supermassive black holes in forming galaxies and that may explain why they seem to have formed faster that expected. See []
    • Re:Ahem... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kindbud ( 90044 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @02:21PM (#30379158) Homepage

      To the extent that the observations and estimations of the galaxy's ages are accurate, yes it was enough time. Now they want to figure out how they formed more quickly than expected. If there is no reason to suspect that the observations and estimations are not accurate enough to rely on, then it must be our expectations of the time required for galaxy formation that is in need of revision.

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by kipsate ( 314423 )
        ...and assuming the big bang theory is correct (which I have the audacity to doubt upon).
        • You have a better theory that correlates with the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation ? That predicts and matches its power spectral density to a fraction of a %, as well as its polarisation distribution? Great, let's hear it.

          The truth is that the CMBR is a relic of the inflationary Big Bang. It's a Smoking Gun - almost literally. Look it up.

          • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

            by kipsate ( 314423 )
            Allright then...

            Perhaps the universe started completely empty and gradually filled up our universe with energy, particles, creating space and time gradually. Perhaps the existance of space induces the creation of energy in our universe.

            That may also explain the accelerating expansion of the universe. Since there is increasingly more space, energy gets created at an accelerated pace in our universe.

            Energy can't appear out of nothing. That's why I say our universe. Conservation of energy demands "negati
            • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              So basically, you dont beleive in a theory backed by a crapload of high quality observational evidence and replace it with a few sprinklings of "perhaps this, perhaps that".


              • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

                by kipsate ( 314423 )
                The observational "evidence" has required the BB theory to be refined frequently. In itself there's nothing wrong with refining a theory, but a theory having to be refined a lot starts to lose its credibility.

                About the word "perhaps": the whole BB theory itself is a big "perhaps", especially as there are other explanations possible for the same observations. It's just that currently, the consensus is that the BB theory fits these observations the best.
                • The observational "evidence" has required the BB theory to be refined frequently. In itself there's nothing wrong with refining a theory, but a theory having to be refined a lot starts to lose its credibility.

                  That's an irrational statement. In fact, it's rubbish. That's like saying that a marksman who practices a lot to become good loses his credibility as a marksman. Why? Because he wasn't 100% accurate first time and had to work at it?

                  Do you have any scientific training at all? Your reply seems to indicate that you don't. A "theory" is a framework that explains things. The more you know about the real world, the more you may have to adapt your theory to fit. Sometimes the theory cannot be further adapted - lik

                  • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

                    by kipsate ( 314423 )
                    Ok, "refined" should perhaps have read "adapted".

                    What I meant to say is that a theory that has to be constantly backfitted to match observations instead of predicting those observations loses credibility.

                    I'd love to see how the Big Bang theory fits observations that the universe is open (i.e., expanding at an accelerating pace). Oh yeah, of course, dark matter has been invented to backfit these observations... brilliant. Good luck with that!
            • You seem to be describing the "Steady State Model" - something put forward by Hoyle in 1948 as an alternative to the Big Bang. Allow me to answer the CMBR question on your behalf - Hoyle suggested that in the Steady State Model the CMBR was due to radiation interactions with iron dust, giving a thermalisation.

              When CMBR data became available - showing an almost perfect black body signature - the Steady State Model could not get better than a 10% or so match. Whereas the Big Bang model agreed to 1 part on 10^

              • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

                by kipsate ( 314423 )
                "Also the Big Bang makes predictions of the distributions - relative amounts, or abundance - of the light elements and their isotopes."

                I think you have it backwards. The Big Bang theory was "refined" to match the observed distributions of the light elements.

                If the observed distribution was in line with some previously established predictions that the BB theory brought forward, then it would have added significantly to the theory's credibility. Backfitting a theory to observed data hurts its credibility.
                • I think you have it backwards. The Big Bang theory was "refined" to match the observed distributions of the light elements.

                  So fucking what? All science is based on revisions, refinements, adaptations, evolutions and revolutions. Somehow you think this denigrates a theory.

                  Big bang nucleosythesis was developed to explain the then observational data. The theory was a novel idea, a eureka moment for physics. It made numerous predications and follow-on work made even more.

                  Big bang nucleosythesis is good for explaining and predicting the abundances of 99% of the universe's baryonic matter. That's not bad. New measurements fit well w

        • by kindbud ( 90044 )

          The Big Bang theory is based on the observations. To critique it, you must attack the reliability of the observations. Vague hand waving about philosophical doubts gets you nowhere. That's for church, not science.

          • by kipsate ( 314423 )
            Bullshit. Attacking a theory does not mean attacking the observations it's based on.
            • by kindbud ( 90044 )

              The observations led to the theory. Not only must your alternative theory explain the observations as well as the Big Bang theory does, it must also explain why the Big Bang theory appeared to explain the observations, even though it was incorrect. So you're wrong: it is all about the observations. It's always about the observations.

            • by sznupi ( 719324 )

              In case of Big Bang theory, it's perhaps as close as you can get: []
              Early observation only hinted at the Big Bang, were for a long time inconclusive/incomplete. First we had the theory with testable conclusions, only at some later point in time we were technically able to do the necessary observations. They confirmed those conclusions.

              After xkcd:

              Science: We finally figured out that you could separate fact from superstition by a completely radical method: observation. You can try things, measure them, and see how they work! Bitches. ... data from the COBE mission, which looked at the background microwave glow of the universe and found that it fit perfectly with the idea that the universe used to be really hot everywhere. This strongly reinforced the Big Bang theory and was one of the most dramatic examples of an experiment agreeing with a theory in history -- the data points fit perfectly, with error bars too small to draw on the graph. It's one of the most triumphant scientific results in history.

              (emphasis mine)

      • Tell that to the dark energy lunatics. ^^

    • by _bug_ ( 112702 )

      I doubt any of those spiral galaxies are 500 million years from the big bang.

      Just about every object in the image has a different age. Several of the spiral galaxies you see are billions of years from the big bang. The 500 million years from big bang objects are more likely to be giant clouds of gasses and stars. The sort of stuff we didn't see with the visible light images taken in 2004, but that we can now see with the infrared filters used to make the new image.

      • Do you have any evidence or detailed interpretation to support your assertion? Have you calculated a red-shift? Please share your calculations with us ....

        You are not even looking at the raw data - just the adjusted images made available in press kits.

  • Seeing that image which is a TINY fraction (perhaps too small to even be considered a fraction) of the universe makes me wonder how some people think there can't be any other life in the universe... We just can't communicate with it because of distance/delay concerns.
    • People tend to be arrogant - we don't know of anything outside ourselves and so it must not exist. Strangely, and I do find it quite strange, many of my fellow Christians intimate that there cannot be life anywhere but here. How that fits with belief in someone else we cannot see or prove, I don't know. It seems to me best to suggest that there might be aliens and there might not be. If the purpose of the universe does not involve such (again, remembering I am a Christian here), then they would not exist. I
      • by al0ha ( 1262684 )
        Well said.
      • Interestingly, the Mormons, which are an offshoot of Christianity, do believe in life on other planets. They even believe that God (Jahweh) is an alien that lives on the planet Kolob, and is one of many such gods.

        They probably don't talk openly about this very much with outsiders, just as Scientologists don't talk openly about Xenu and the Galactic Confederation, though it's central to their belief that Xenu brought billions of people here and killed them with atomic bombs to reduce overpopulation, and the

      • It seems to me best to suggest that there might be aliens and there might not be.

        You observation is very astute. May I suggest that you are either an ignorant Christian pedophile, or you are not.

        But hold! You said "and" instead of "or"! You're thinking from a quantum mechanical perspective. My apologies, I think you're right. There are aliens, and there are not aliens, and it will not be decided until with observe them? Cool. But to them we're the aliens..... ah shit, let's just say they are 'angels'.

        Atheism is the rejection of dogmas, for it is the non-assertion of a delusional posi

  • Just in time for Christmas,...

    Deep fried in infrared, duh! this is just the neighbor's christmas tree!

  • It's not that big... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Golddess ( 1361003 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @02:31PM (#30379278)
    That is simply awesome looking. But... only 2345x2039 []? The original maxed out at 6200x6200 []. What gives? :P
  • by _bug_ ( 112702 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @02:46PM (#30379414) Journal

    I took the 2004 UDF image and rotated/cropped as needed to match with the 2009 UDF image so you can switch between the two and compare the differences.

    2004 UDF [] | 2009 UDF []

    The new image uses infrared versus the visible light filters from the 2004 image. The resolution may not differ much between the two images, but the infrared will pick up deeper objects that we missed with the visible light filters. However the visible light image tends to pick up more detail such as in the spiral galaxy in the middle-left. That galaxy is known as UDF 7556 and what you see is how it was 6.1 billion years after the big bang.

    This stuff is so cool.

    • by tibman ( 623933 )

      Very cool. At first i was thinking, wow, the new one looks so washed out and gray. But the background on the new one is black.. just with so so many specks in it.. i'm simply amazed. Are those all galaxies? When i lean into the moniter and pick out one of those specks, is that a whole damn galaxy?

  • Read that as "Hubble Ultra Deep Fried"? I thought they were making cheese sticks in space.
  • The optical observations of the UDF from 2004 were conducted with the Advanced Camera for Surveys/Wide Field Channel (ACS/WFC) not the predecessor to WFC3 (Wide Field/Planetary Camera 2, or WF/PC2). Also, the optical channel of WFC3 does offer a small improvement in pixel scale (40 milliarcseconds/pixel, versus 50 mas/pix for ACS/WFC. However, the near-infrared channel (where these images were taken) only has a pixel scale of 130 mas/pix, a factor of ~2.5 worse than ACS/WFC.

    (The diffraction limit of HST
  • I took the extra large web image and decided to draw some lines to connect large (12 pixel or more), bright (50% luminous) objects together. The point was to try to find large regions of relatively dark sky in the image. Why? The original deep field images were taken upon "black" sky to see what really long exposures could find. Now with the ultra deep field images, it's plenty clear that most "black" sky has lots of galaxies visible. So, in the future, it'd probably be a good idea to take an ultra dee

  • Can they take a tiny part of the deep field image, that is (apparently) black, and do the same thing again?

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus