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Tuesday, January 30th 2007

The Camera…

…that helped capture what I have been convinced is the most important image ever recorded has shut down.

The newest and most heavily used camera on the Hubble Space Telescope shut down over the weekend and appears to be permanently damaged, NASA said Monday.

Though other cameras on Hubble remain operative, the Advanced Camera for Surveys, which is used to peer back to the earliest and most remote galaxies in the universe, appears to be irreparable…

The newest and most heavily used camera on the Hubble Space Telescope shut down over the weekend and appears to be permanently damaged, NASA said Monday.

Though other cameras on Hubble remain operative, the Advanced Camera for Surveys, which is used to peer back to the earliest and most remote galaxies in the universe, appears to be irreparable

I’ve posted on this before but I believe, as many have claimed, that the Deep Field images (especially the Ultra Deep Field) taken by Hubble (and specifically the ACS) are the most telling images ever.


This Image Has 10,000 Galaxies In It

The Deep Fields were the furthest any human had ever looked into the universe’s past in the visible spectrum. Some of the light from galaxies in the image above (and even those little specks that might just be scratches are galaxies representing millions of stars) is from just 700 – 800 million years after the Big Bang. Far, far before the sun or earth even existed.

That is amazing in and of itself. However, what makes the Ultra Deep Field image the most important/amazing image ever is what it tells us about our place in the universe.

As mentioned, there are more than 10,000 galaxies in that picture above. But this image isn’t a sweeping survey of the universe. Far from it, as NASA says,

Looking into the Ultra Deep Field is like peering through an eight-foot-long soda straw.

The Hubble telescope was peering into a tiny portion of space. Now, the light from these galaxies obviously isn’t visible to the naked eye. Indeed, the vast majority of these galaxies aren’t even observable in the visible spectrum with ground based telescopes. However, consider that if these galaxies were visible you could go outside, look up into the night sky, hold a tennis ball at arm’s length and probably obscure all of them from your view.

10,000 galaxies. Perhaps trillions of stars. All in a relatively teeny tiny section of the universe.


I’ve Posted This Video Before, But Watch It Again

The observable universe contains an estimated 80 billion galaxies. But no matter how big the galaxy is (and even the current thought based on this paper has its major critics) we clearly cannot observe all (perhaps even most of it). Indeed, imagine what it says for our place if the universe is infinite.

But 80 billion, infinite, 78 billion light years (as a radius). They’re numbers. They’re nothing. When you read them they allow your mind to no more grasp the TRUE size than if you read pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism.

If the Ultra Deep Field does anything it is to put the size of the universe in slightly more visual terms.

Unfortunately the camera responsible for the majority of the Ultra Deep Field has cronked out. Get a visible light camera of similiar power and capabilities up and working NASA!!

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