Hubble galaxies
Stsci / Aura
This image provides a typical view of the far-off places in the universe --  some of the galaxies seen are billions of light-years away in space.
updated 8/4/2005 8:07:40 PM ET 2005-08-05T00:07:40

The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a collection of galaxies with more variety than a candy store.

Some are big; some are small. Some are old; some are new. Some are nearby; some are far away.

But one thing many of the hundreds of galaxies have in common is that they’ve never been seen until Hubble recently captured their light.

The image shown above, which covers a patch of sky only a fraction of the area of a full moon, provides a typical view of the far-off places in the universe. As some of these galaxies are billions of light-years away in space, looking down this long corridor of galaxies is like looking billions of years back in time.

The larger, brighter galaxies in the image are large, fully formed galaxies that are relatively close to us. Several of them are spirals with flat disks that are oriented either edge-on, face-on, or somewhere in between to Hubble. You can also see elliptical galaxies and other more exotic shapes with bars or tidal tails.

The smaller galaxies are actually just further away and are faint because their light has taken billions of years to reach us. So, in fact, the light from these galaxies is coming from a much younger version than what exists – or doesn’t – today.

At least a dozen stars from our own Milky Way Galaxy dot the foreground of this image, the brightest of which is the large red object in the center. Stars are easily spotted by their diffraction spikes – the long cross hair lines that come from their centers. These are an image artifact caused when starlight travels through a telescope’s optical system.

This image is a composite of multiple single field exposures taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys in Sept. 2003. The image took nearly 40 hours to complete – one of the longest exposures ever taken by Hubble.

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