Astronomers were stunned to see more than 3,000 galaxies.
According to official sources, the Hubble Space Telescope managed to make the most revolutionary discoveries in the history of astronomy. The image, a combination of almost 7,500 separate Hubble exposures, contains roughly 265,000 galaxies.
Professor Garth Illingworth of the University of California, who helped assemble the photograph, said: "Now that we have gone wider than in previous surveys, we are harvesting many more distant galaxies in the largest such dataset ever produced".
The image you see before you (and see in the video below) represents a span of time 13.3 billion years in the making. By comparison, the XDF survey, which focuses on the same region of the sky, covers an area of space less than one-tenth of the moon's diameter. Image credit: NASA / ESA / G. Illingworth & D. Magee, University of California, Santa Cruz / K. Whitaker, University of CT / R. Bouwens, Leiden University / P. Oesch, University of Geneva / Hubble Legacy Field Team.
The scientists are working on a second set of mosaic images that combines more than 5,200 captures by the Hubble telescope from another area of the sky. The Hubble Legacy Field is one of the widest views ever taken of the universe with Hubble.
"With images at so many frequencies, we can dissect the light from galaxies into the contributions from old and young stars, as well as active galactic nuclei".
The wavelength range stretches from ultraviolet to near-infrared light, capturing the key features of galaxy assembly over time.
The imae yields a huge catalog of distant galaxies.
"One exciting aspect of these new images is the large number of sensitive color channels now available to view distant galaxies, especially in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum", Rychard Bouwens, one of the mosaic team members from Leiden University in the Netherlands, said in the Hubble statement.
The new mosaic is one of the widest views ever taken of the universe, stretching nearly the width of the full moon in Earth's sky. Observations with ground-based telescopes were not able to establish how galaxies formed and evolved in the early Universe.
The new view of the universe is available through the online database Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes, which includes data from Hubble and other NASA missions.
The Hubble Space Telescope has come a long way in taking ever deeper "core samples" of the distant universe. Hubble pointed to a small patch of sky over 10 days in December of that year, producing 100 hours of total exposure time (like leaving the shutter open on your camera).
In the image is a range of different sorts of observations - different light interpreted in many different ways. "This will really set the stage for NASA's planned Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)", Illingworth said. "In just three weeks' worth of observations by WFIRST, astronomers will be able to assemble a field that is much deeper and more than twice as large as the Hubble Legacy Field".
This graphic reveals close-up images of 15 galaxies from the 265,000 galaxies in the Hubble Legacy Field.