Except for a few stars – bright and easily recognizable because they have diffraction spikes – every speck of light in this image is an entire galaxy. This image is the latest of a series of deep field images acquired by the Hubble Space Telescope. This one – called the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) – was released on September 25, 2012.
We present this image to honor Edwin Hubble, whose birthday is today.
Astronomers compiled 10 years of previous images to create this image, which shows a tiny area of sky. The light from some of the galaxies here has been traveling to us for 13.2 billion years. The faintest galaxies here are one ten-billionth the brightness of what the human eye can see.
It’s the deepest view we have of our universe, in optical light.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.