Just How Ridiculously Huge the Universe Is


Tue, Mar 27th, 2012 09:00 by capnasty NEWS

Phil Plait, better known for his Bad Astronomy blog, takes a look at an ultradeep space image taken by a 4.1 metre telescope pointed to the same spot in the sky for 55 hours. The result is an insane 250 MB photograph at 17,000 x 11,000 pixels.

What's insane about it isn't the size: when you take a closer look at each of the stars, they're actually galaxies. Thousands upon thousands of them. Ridiculously far away galaxies we're seeing with billion-old light.

With the exception of a handful of blue-looking stars, everything in this zoom is a galaxy, probably billions of light years away. Those tiny red dots are galaxies so far away they crush our minds to dust: we're seeing them with light that left them shortly after the Universe itself formed.

This light is ancient. And it came a long, long way.

[...] I've spent years studying all this, and it still sometimes gets to me: just how flipping BIG the Universe is! And this picture is still just a tiny piece of it: it's 1.2 x 1.5 degrees in size, which means it's only 0.004% of the sky! And it's not even complete: more observations of this region are planned, allowing astronomers to see even deeper yet.

Next time you're running around like a headless chicken, stop for a minute and think about that, all happening above you.



You may also be interested in:

"The Martian colonists would experience a phenomenon known as the founder effect."
"We’re just a scant 16 years away from reaching a goal that has eluded every generation that came before us."
We're Now Entering the Era of Private Space Travel
"The new cloud of water is enough to supply 28 galaxies with water."
Water Vapour Found in Atmosphere of Planet in Another Solar System