The Hubble Space Telescope’s largest infrared image to date dates back 10 billion years
The largest near-infrared image of galaxies ever taken by the Hubble Space Telescope has provided a playground for astronomers looking for potential targets for the James Webb Space Telescope.
The image is the result of a project called 3D-DASH and was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope‘s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), with additional archive data from Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. It covers 1.35 square degrees of sky, which is roughly the equivalent of six full moons, and contains thousands of galaxies. The goal is to identify the galaxies that are worthy of further study by the James Webb Space Telescope and other telescopes in the future.
“I’m curious about Giant galaxieswhich are the most massive in the universe, formed by the merger of other galaxies,” said Lamiya Mowla, an astronomer at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto and leader of the new research, in a expression. “How did their structures grow and what led to the changes in their form? It was difficult to study these extremely rare events using existing images, which motivated the design of this large survey.”
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It would normally have taken Hubble 2,000 hours of observation to create an image this large, but Mowla’s team used a new technique called Drift and Shift (DASH) that takes multiple exposures and stitches them together, compositing individual images eight times larger than the typical field of view of WFC3 (0.04 x 0.04 degrees). Also, instead of taking a picture every time it orbits EarthHubble was able to capture eight images using the DASH technique. With a total of 1,256 individual WFC3 exposures, it took only 250 hours of observing time to complete the entire mosaic.
Most of the galaxies in the image are visible as patches of infrared light. The most distant ones can be seen as they existed about 10 billion years ago and had the light from brilliant star-forming regions within them redshifted until expansion of the universe in near-infrared wavelengths. You can see these galaxies in more detail in an online interactive version of the image 3D Dash Image Explorer.
Unlike Hubble, Webb will be able to study these galaxies more closely thanks to the increased light-gathering power of the newer telescope’s 6.5-metre mirror. Featuring Webb’s first scientific quality images is scheduled to be released on July 12ththe release of the 3D DASH data is indeed timely.
For larger overview images, astronomers will have to wait for those from the European Space Agency Euclid mission and that of NASA Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescopewhich will have larger fields of view (0.79 x 1.16 degrees and 0.8 x 0.4 degrees respectively) than Hubble and Webb and are expected to come to market in 2023 and 2027 respectively.
The research has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal and a preprint version is available from arXiv Database.
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https://www.space.com/hubble-space-telescope-largest-infrared-image The Hubble Space Telescope’s largest infrared image to date dates back 10 billion years