The Hubble Space Telescope has captured the deepest-ever view into the universe. The image, named eXtreme Deep Field (XDF), shows about 5500 galaxies that are billions of light-years away from us. The image actually combines 10 years of Hubble images of one tiny area of deep space in the southern sky.
The galaxies in the image are so far from Earth that only accumulated light from numerous Hubble observations is able to show objects so far away. To put it into perspective, some of the galaxies are one ten-billionth the brightness we can see with the naked eye.
You may already have seen the first Hubble “Ultra Deep Field” image captured back between 2003 to 2004. It too captured light over many Hubble observation sessions to show thousands of galaxies. It was the deepest view of the universe before this. However, this new eXtreme Deep Field image looks so deep into the universe that it captures light from as much as 13.2 billion years in the past! In other words, the light seen here has taken 13.2 billion light-years to reach the telescope. The universe is thought to be about 13.7 billion old.
This image contains the faintest, most distant galaxies ever seen. Notably, in the image are spiral galaxies that are similar in shape to our Milky Way galaxy, and to our neighboring Andromeda galaxy. You can find (much) larger versions of the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field image here.
Kind of makes you feel tiny, doesn’t it?