Hubble Approaches 'Final Frontier'
Detailed analyses of mankind's deepest optical view of the universe, the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF), by several expert teams have at last identified what may turn out to be some of the earliest star-forming galaxies. These faint sources, circled in the image above, illustrate how astronomers can begin to explore when the first galaxies formed and what their properties might be.
The sensitivity of Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), combined with the penetrating power of the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS), finally revealed these long sough faint galaxies. The HUDF shows that close to a billion years after the Big Bang the early universe was filled with dwarf galaxies, but no fully formed galaxies like our Milky Way. After careful analysis, they have been sorted out as between 54 and 108 dim, red smudges sprinkled across the HUDF image. From a hierarchical point of view, this means the universe started out as a bunch of "mom & pop" stores, which merged into businesses, and then into giant corporations -- the majestic galaxies we see today.
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Photo Credit: NASA/ESA/STScI
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