What you’re seeing above is the most zoomed-in photograph ever created. Dubbed the Xtreme Deep Field (or XDF for short), the photo is a follow-up to the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field photo created late-2003 and is composited from over 10 years’ worth of data, and one that combines over 2000 images of a small window of deep space.
The finished photograph and the work that has gone into creating it is remarkable. In total, it shows off some 5,500 individual galaxies – some of which are just one ten-billionth the brightness of what our human eyes can see – including hundreds of spiral galaxies that bear a striking resemblance to our own Milky Way, and reveals galaxies that are over 13.2 billion years old. The Universe itself is commonly understood to have been formed 13.7 billion years ago, meaning the observed galaxies were created relatively shortly after creation itself.
Released on September 25th 2012, the image is the product of the Hubble ‘space camera’ which was pointed at the small window of sky for a total of 50 days, racking up a total cumulative exposure time of two million seconds (approximately 23 days in total). “The XDF is the deepest image of the sky ever obtained and reveals the faintest and most distant galaxies ever seen,” said Garth Illingworth of the University of California at Santa Cruz, principal investigator of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2009 programme. “XDF allows us to explore further back in time than ever before.”