back to article NASA releases stunning image of our universe's distant past

NASA has combined 10 years of deep-space photos to create what it dubs the "eXtreme Deep Field" (XDF), an image of a tiny slice of the sky that contains well over five thousand galaxies, some almost unimaginably ancient. "The XDF is the deepest image of the sky ever obtained and reveals the faintest and most distant galaxies …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes, feeling very small!

    And the sad thing is, we'll never meet any other intelligent life from outside our solar system, as the distances are too large for us to travel (or them for that matter). Guess we're all Goldfish in our bowls in the space scheme of things.

    Still, it's awesome that man has developed enough skills to see what's out there and understand our tiny place in the scheme of things.

    1. NukEvil
      Mushroom

      Re: Yes, feeling very small!

      Some could argue that they haven't really seen any intelligent life inside our solar system, either.

      1. Graham Marsden
        Thumb Up

        @NukEvil - Re: Yes, feeling very small!

        "Some could argue that they haven't really seen any intelligent life inside our solar system, either."

        Grams - Monty Python : The Universe Song :-)

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Cubical Drone

        Re: Yes, feeling very small!

        @NukEvil Especially if they followed the 'some may disagree' link to the AnswersInGenesis, website.

    2. BioPeek
      Childcatcher

      Re: Yes, feeling very small!

      Bboggled, bedazzled, bamboozled by the impossibilities of trying to comprehend that.

      Small, small, small! Doesn't even cover our little spec of space.

    3. Richard Scratcher
      Alien

      Feeling small?

      The Total Perspective Vortex is allegedly the most horrible torture device to which a sentient being can be subjected.

      When you are put into the Vortex you are given just one momentary glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation, and somewhere in it a tiny little mark, a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot, which says, "You are here." - Douglas Adams

    4. NomNomNom

      Re: Yes, feeling very small!

      "And the sad thing is, we'll never meet any other intelligent life from outside our solar system, as the distances are too large for us to travel (or them for that matter)."

      how very convenient...

    5. Gav Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Yes, feeling very small!

      "we'll never meet any other intelligent life from outside our solar system"

      Depends on what you want to term "meet". If you mean physically bump up against you may be right, but that's a very antiquated, 20th century way of thinking.

    6. Yesnomaybe

      Re: Yes, feeling very small!

      "the distances are too large for us to travel (or them for that matter). "

      Only when meassured against human lifespans. For an entity that lives for, say 10 000 years, 10% of lightspeed would allow a considerable sphere of exploration.

  2. Woza
    Headmaster

    Great image, but

    "Most observers date our universe as being about 13.7 billion years old (although some disagree)...

    According to NASA, the youngest galaxy in the XDF was formed a mere 450 million years after the Big Bang. Considering that our Earth is generally considered to be 4.54 billion years old, a 450 million-year-old galaxy is a mere babe in the woods."

    If the youngest galaxy was formed 450 million years after the Big Bang, it is not 450 million years old, it is ~13.3 billion years old.

    1. frank ly

      Re: Great image, but

      My immediate reaction was to make a comment along those lines. However, ....

      If you see a collection of family photographs, the oldest of which shows your great-grandfather as a newborn baby, would you say 'here is the youngest person in the collection'? It is a photo of the 'youngest person at the time'. Semantics ...Pendantics......

    2. Michael Hutchinson
      Facepalm

      Re: Great image, but

      "If the youngest galaxy was formed 450 million years after the Big Bang, it is not 450 million years old, it is ~13.3 billion years old."

      It was 450 million years old when the light used to produce this picture was emitted, therefore in the picture it is 450 million years old.

    3. greensun

      Re: Great image, but

      The people voting this down need to go and have a good think.

      1. NomNomNom

        Re: Great image, but

        Thinking is what got them into the situation in the first place.

        Confusion on the matter is a clear sign of the hand of Satan. The world is approximately 6000 years. It's that simple.

    4. Gav Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Great image, but

      It's quite simple. Being formed 450 million years after the Big Bang does not make a galaxy "a 450 million-year-old babe in the woods". It makes it very old indeed, having been born soon after the Big Bang. If this is the youngest of the galaxies on the image, then all the others are even older and were formed even sooner after the Big Bang.

      We can only see this image of these galaxies because their light has taken so long to reach us.

      I was born 14.6 billion years after the Big Bang. I am not 14.6 billion years old. If I was to send this information to the far side of the galaxy by radio, I still would not be 14.6 billion years old. They would simply be hearing about it later.

      Does this need saying?

  3. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    The Preantepenultimate Deep Field"...?

    The "Mindbogglingly Deep Field"...?

    The "Really Awesomely Deep Field"...?

    1. Michael Hoffmann
      Joke

      Re: The Preantepenultimate Deep Field"...?

      ITYM: "Ludicriously Deep Field"!

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Martin Budden Bronze badge

      Re: The Preantepenultimate Deep Field"...?

      Fucking Deep Field.

      I dare them.

    4. SuperTim

      Re: The Preantepenultimate Deep Field"...?

      The HellaDeepField?

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: The Preantepenultimate Deep Field"...?

        XDFV2.0 up to XDFX, XDFX2.0 etc.

        Not very exciting, I admit, but just wait and see.

        Or you could just add the Vs onto the beginning.

        The Very eXtreme Deep Field... and then the Very Very eXtreme Deep Field.

        No, wait... my money's on the Webb Ultra Deep Field. WUDF.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The guys at VESA who come up with the (totally retarded) naming standards for monitor resolutions could probably give NASA a few hints...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Makes me want to smoke pot again.......

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If you do, check out the BBC's Astronomy Photographer of the year pictures at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19637073 too. The close ups of the surface of the sun are incredible when your mental state isn't quite baseline. Or so I hear...

  6. Roger Greenwood
    Pint

    "It's full of stars"

    Is what I thought of.

  7. Purlieu

    So

    "It was 450 million years old when the light used to produce this picture was emitted, therefore in the picture it is 450 million years old"

    So how old is it now then ? Assuming it still exists. We can't tell, since the only image we have of it is from a long time ago in a galaxy far far away (etc)

    1. Graham Marsden
      Coat

      Re: So

      "the only image we have of it is from a long time ago in a galaxy far far away (etc)"

      It's so tempting to photoshop some scrolling text across one of the distant galaxies...!

  8. Justin Forder

    This is a tiny patch of the sky

    ...compared with the size of the full moon here:

    http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2012/37/image/c/format/web_print/

    1. Valerion

      Re: This is a tiny patch of the sky

      Awesome pic - as if the pic in the article wasn't enough, this shows just how tiny a portion it really is.

      SImply amazing.

    2. Graham Marsden
      Happy

      Re: This is a tiny patch of the sky

      That's no...

      ... oh, sorry, yes it is...

    3. NomNomNom

      Re: This is a tiny patch of the sky

      So the moon is bigger than all those galaxies?

      or is it not to scale?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apparaent distance-time anomaly explanation required here

    There's something here that my limited intellect can't handle:

    How can this distant cluster of galaxies be about 13.2 billion light years from us after 13.7 billion years, unless it was travelling away from us at something approaching the speed of light since the big bang (and we have to be. relatively, stationary)? The trouble with this is that the matter (which later coalesced to form this galactic cluster) started at velocity zero relative to us and, I assume, it took a considerable time for such a mass to be accelerated to near light speed. Even harder for me to understand is the case where the matter that created this cluster, and that which created our local group, were ejected along approximately the same path - how could one possibly be 13.2 Bn light years 'ahead' of the other after 13.7 Bn years, especially if we are travelling quickly away from the location of the big-bang? It barely works for me if these 2 groups of matter were ejected along diametrically opposed paths.

    Bloody boring question really......

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apparaent distance-time anomaly explanation required here

      Expansion is proportional to distance. Light emitted from a distant galaxy may have been emitted at a time when the space between us and the galaxy was expanding at a rate slower than the speed of light, allowing the light to reach us -- however currently the galaxy may be moving away from us faster than the speed of light (the universe could extend by much more than 13.7bn light years from us, but light from those objects doesn't reach us because it can't out-run the rate of expansion).

    2. fearnothing
      Alien

      Re: Apparaent distance-time anomaly explanation required here

      The distance between galaxies can be increasing without the galaxies themselves moving at all. Imagine spacetime as a balloon, and the galaxies as dots drawn on the balloon. Blow the balloon up and the distances between the dots increases without the dots' position on the balloon having changed at all.

      At least, that's how Brian Greene explained it to me. Go read The Fabric of the Cosmos.

    3. Purlieu

      Re: Apparaent distance-time anomaly explanation required here

      "especially if we are travelling quickly away from the location of the big-bang"

      we aren't, the place we exist in was the location of the big bang, it's the space that has expanded, so essentially we are all still "there"

      1. n4blue

        Re: Apparaent distance-time anomaly explanation required here

        I can't get my head around this.

        If the big bang happened 13.7bn years ago, then the matter that makes up those galaxies and the matter that makes up us were in the same place 13.7bn years ago.

        If the light from those galaxies took 13.2bn years to reach us, then 13.2bn years ago (500m years after thr big bang) those galaxies were 13.2bn light years away from us .

        So over a period of 500m years the matter in those galaxies moved 13.2bn light years away from us, at a rate of over 26 times the speed of light.

        Is that correct?

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fucking

    Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Fucking Amazing. Times lots.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Beautiful

    Enough said really.

  13. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Happy

    The next gen. telescopes should just about reveal the "Made in China" legend that's stamped into the Cosmic horizon.

  14. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Gravitational fogging

    Given an average density of matter in the universe how far back in time could we see before the intermediate objects gravitational effects reduced the image to a 3K fog?

    1. Tom_
      Meh

      Re: Gravitational fogging

      It doesn't work like that. The further away galaxies are, the faster they are moving away from us due to the accelerating expansion of the universe. This means that the further away they are, the more the light from them is shifted towards the red end of the spectrum and eventually beyond the visible spectrum entirely. So if the universe had been doing this for long enough, you could look far enough away/back that you wouldn't see anything at all.

      It would just be black.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Gravitational fogging

        So there is a sphere beyond which it matters not a jot what is there - as it will not have any effect at all on anything we can observe?

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Gravitational fogging

          Exactamundo!

  15. harmjschoonhoven
    Meh

    Re: each and every dot is an entire galaxy

    The 'starry' dot near the center of the righthand lower quarter of the image is a foreground star in 'our own' galaxy.

  16. Purlieu

    Accelerating

    How does that work ? It takes energy to drive accelaration, and all energy that exists, was present at the big bang. So where does this extra energy come from that drives the acceleration ? If anything I'd expect things to slow down eventually, like a firework exploding in the sky does. I'm not convinced about this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Accelerating

      Answer: Dark Energy.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Accelerating

      The trick is they're not really accelerating way - the universe is expanding so things are getting further away but no energy is required... sort of a mathematical pint too many - the bar hasn't moved but its just a lot harder to get to.

      Well it was - they're not so sure now...

      1. Martin
        Pint

        Re: Accelerating

        ".....sort of a mathematical pint too many - the bar hasn't moved but its just a lot harder to get to."

        Beautiful - have one on me!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It takes energy to drive accelaration"

    It does indeed, however the galaxies are not accelerating in the conventional sense, it's expansion of spacetime that gives that impression driven by dark energy. At least that's the prevailing paradigm AFAIK

  18. ravenviz
    Boffin

    each and every dot is an entire galaxy

    I think I can see three foregound stars.

    And the back of my head!

  19. Skizz
    FAIL

    For a laugh...

    ...I partially read the AnswersInGenesis page the article linked to. If there ever was a case to prove how bad science and maths education has got, that is surely it.

  20. Ray Foulkes

    Wake me up...

    when Nasa deploys a telescope 10 times more powerful than the previous generation, but sees nothing more than the previous generation. Every few years the universe gets billions of years older.

    1. Dropper

      Re: Wake me up...

      What they'd see if they had one ten times more powerful what we'd see would be darkness, then sudden light, then a person in a lab coat walking into a room turning on what suspiciously looks like a hadron collider.

  21. Purlieu

    Can't wait

    ... until they see something from before the ionisation point, but of course that would be "debunked" as "misreading" etc

  22. Dropper
    Pint

    6000 years or so

    "although some disagree"

    good enough for me.. all those so-called scientists with their new-fangled calculators can stuff it.. if a Godsite says Earth is 6000 years old it must be correct.. because God wouldn't put anything on the internet that wasn't true.

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