Hubble Team Unveils Telescope's Most Colorful Cosmic View

Image: Hubble Ultra Deep Field

A color-coded image of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, in the constellation Fornax, reveals thousands of galaxies over the full range of the Hubble Space Telescope's color spectrum, from infrared to ultraviolet. The image was compiled from data gathered over 841 orbits of telescope viewing time.NASA / ESA / IPAC / Caltech / STScI / ASU

More than a decade after they started, scientists have finally filled out their view of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field on the ultraviolet side of the spectrum. The updated image, released Tuesday, incorporates all the colors that the Hubble Space Telescope can detect, visible and invisible.

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field, or HUDF, catalogs thousands of galaxies in a small section of space in the southern constellation Fornax. Previous versions of the HUDF covered the range of wavelengths stretching from near-infrared through the visible spectrum, plus the far ultraviolet. But the near-ultraviolet part of the spectrum wasn't covered nearly as well.

"The lack of information from ultraviolet light made studying galaxies in the HUDF like trying to understand the history of families without knowing about the grade-school children," Caltech's Harry Teplitz, principal investigator for a project called Ultraviolet Coverage of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, said in a news release.

Teplitz and his colleagues filled in the gap with fresh observations from Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. The Hubble team says the newly filled-out picture should help astronomers understand how grade-school galaxies grew by forming small collections of very hot stars.

Teplitz presented the team's findings in Boston during a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.