A lot of folks are going rightfully nutso over a recent image taken by the Hubble telescope, which is aged and obsolete by all accounts. But boy, it can take some pictures.
This is the photo that’s tearing it up on the Internet. Lots of folks are happy to forward this around Twitter, but are not exactly understanding what it even is. This is not a photograph of the Universe, nor is it the most detailed picture of galaxies ever taken. What it is a complete photograph of the Hubbell Ultra Deep Field, ranging from darkest infrared, through visible light, all the way to ultra-violet. All merged together.
Actually, this is an understated photograph. Most people don’t realize how amazing this picture is for what it doesn’t show: the rest of the night sky.
Here’s the deal: astronomers wondered what would happen if they pointed the Hubbell at a dark, uninteresting patch of the night sky. And they zoomed in (relatively speaking) on one piece of it. And then zoomed in on the least interesting part of that. They picked two points, one in the North and one in the South, and were astonished to see these uninteresting areas filled with lots and lots of beautiful galaxies.
Astronomers were so pleased with the results they went way further. They picked an absolutely useless and incredibly tiny piece of the sky. They used new techniques and technologies to really, really, really zoom in on the tiniest piece of sky, all all wavelengths of light. An ultra deep field, as it were. A spot so dark that no stars in our own galaxy would ever be in the way.
So small, it’s the size of a 1mm x 1mm square held a meter away from your eyes. That’s how small the spot is.
And the picture you see here is what they saw.
So think of it this way: this photo is something the size of a staple hole held 3 feet from your eye. How many of these fill the entire night sky all around you? About 12,560 of these, all around you, above you, and below you.
That’s how awesome this picture is: you are looking at a tiny piece of the entire thing. And this still doesn’t show everything: just what our telescopes are able to see.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.