“In other words, theory attempts to segregate the minimum number of possible worlds which must include the actual world we inhabit. Then the observer, with new factual information, attempts to reduce the list further. And so it goes, observation and theory advancing together toward the common goal of science, knowledge of the structure and observation of the universe.” -Edwin Hubble

To gaze into the empty abyss of deep space with the most expensive telescope of all requires a great leap of faith: that you’ll find something worth observing when you look. In 1995, the Hubble Space Telescope photographed the same regions of space 342 times, unveiling thousands of undiscovered galaxies.

The Hubble Space Telescope, as imaged during the last and final servicing mission. Image credit: NASA.

The Hubble Space Telescope, as imaged during the last and final servicing mission. Image credit: NASA.

More than 20 years later, we’ve used this same technique to determine that the observable Universe has at least 170 billion galaxies spread throughout it. The James Webb Space Telescope is poised to unveil even more, with the capability of seeing back to when the Universe was less than 2% of its current age.

The Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF), which revealed approximately 50% more galaxies-per-square-degree than the previous Ultra-Deep Field. Image credit: NASA; ESA; G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch, University of California, Santa Cruz; R. Bouwens, Leiden University; and the HUDF09 Team.

The Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF), which revealed approximately 50% more galaxies-per-square-degree than the previous Ultra-Deep Field. Image credit: NASA; ESA; G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch, University of California, Santa Cruz; R. Bouwens, Leiden University; and the HUDF09 Team.

Go get the full story, in no more than 200 words but with lots of visuals (including my first Forbes movie!) on today’s Mostly Mute Monday!

Comments

  1. #1 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    May 11, 2016

    Photos like this make me glad I’m so ill-equipped to fathom the vastness on display. I think it’d be overwhelming if I could even approach it.

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