About the Image
The NICMOS image contains over 300 galaxies having spiral, elliptical and irregular shapes. Though most of these galaxies were first seen in 1995 when Hubble took a visible-light deep exposure of the same field, the infrared instrument NICMOS uncovered many new objects. Most of these objects are too small and faint to be apparent in the full field NICMOS view.
The field of view is 2 million light-years across, at its maximum, yet, on a cosmic scale, it represents only a thin pencil beam look across the Universe. The area of sky covered is merely 1/100th the apparent diameter of the full moon.
The right side of the image shows two close-up NICMOS views of candidate objects which may be over 12 billion light-years away. Each candidate is centered in the frame. The reddish color may mean all of the starlight has been stretched to infrared wavelengths by the Universe's expansion. Alternative explanations are that the objects are closer to us, but the light has been reddened by dust scattering. A new generation of telescopes will be needed to make follow-up observations capable of establishing true distance.
The image was taken in January 1998 and required an exposure time of 36 hours to detect objects down to a very faint 30th magnitude. Hubble was aimed in the direction of the constellation Ursa Major, in a region just above the handle of the Big Dipper. The colors used to make the image correspond to different wavelengths of light - blue, green, and red.
As time progresses, so will our ability to see futher and further away - giving us insight on the very beginnings of the Universe's existence!
How do We Calculate Distances of This Magnitude?
Hubble's Law can be used to find distances of astronomical objects out to the limits of the observable Universe. For more information on Hubble's Law, please read the section on finding distances to the Nearest Superclusters.
Why Are These Distances Important To Astronomers?
The NICMOS image and the text, the majority of which was from the press release, was created with support to Space Telescope Science Institute, operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., from NASA contract NAS5-26555 and is reproduced with permission from AURA/STScI.
This file was last modified on Wednesday, 10-Dec-2003 15:23:52 EST