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.



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