Hubble telescope captures 2,65,000 galaxies in an extensive Legacy Field mosaic

In galaxies far, far away, stars form and die, Hubble captured them in a single epic photograph.

The Hubble telescope has released an image of the universe that scientists stitched together using 7,500 other images. While it looks unassuming on the first glance, this image is a big deal for astronomers everywhere.

Called a Legacy Field, the image shows 2,65,000 galaxies, each at different stages in their life cycles, but also the history of the universe. NASA said, "no image will surpass this one until future space telescopes are launched."

The Legacy Field is no ordinary map, and naturally, took an extraordinary effort on the part of Hubble and the scientists programming it. The telescope spent 250 days staring into this one patch of sky. Moreover, there were 31 programs of astronomers that made this image a reality. This spectacular new window into the universe was shared with the public on 2 May 2019.

Hubble telescope captures 2,65,000 galaxies in an extensive Legacy Field mosaic

Hubble's Legacy Field. Image credit: HubbleSite

This is not the first time that Hubble has undertaken such an endeavour. There have been three other deep field surveys over the years: the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS) in 2003, the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) in 2004, and the eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) study in 2012.

The dimensions of the image released as compared to the width of the moon. is the same. Image credit: NASA

The dimensions of the image released as compared to the width of the moon. is the same. Image credit: NASA

That said, scientists think Hubble’s Legacy Field will add a lot of value to the research community, particularly in understanding our vast universe and how it will evolve in the near future. This mosaic image is the first in a series of images scientists are currently working on. Work on another Legacy Field is already underway, using 5,200 Hubble exposures of a different region in the sky.

Galaxies in Hubble’s Legacy Field could also end up being prime targets for future telescopes like the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). The WFIRST, to be launched in 2020, will be able to capture images that 100 times larger and more detailed than Hubble currently can.

But for now, Hubble continues to blow our minds with its images from far and wide. The Hubble team celebrated the telescope’s 29th birthday by releasing a hauntingly beautiful image of the Southern Crab Nebula.

Hubble’s still got it.

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