The original Hubble Deep Field truly showed us what the Universe looks like.
Later this month, the Hubble Space Telescope will celebrate its 30th anniversary.
More than any other observatory in history, Hubble revealed what the Universe looks like.
When it was first launched, a problem with its mirror’s optics produced only flawed images.
In late 1993, new flaw-correcting equipment was installed, along with an improved camera: WFPC2.
The next year, scientists embarked on a risky observing campaign: the Hubble Deep Field.
They examined a region of sky that was seemingly empty: with no bright, nearby stars or galaxies.
For ten consecutive days, across multiple wavelengths, Hubble observed the same patch of nothing, collecting one photon at a time.
When all the data was collected, this is what they saw.
Where nothing was known previously, thousands of new, distant, faint galaxies were revealed.
These Hubble Deep Field images revolutionized our view of the Universe.
Future observing campaigns and subsequent, superior instruments brought the Universe into greater focus.
Deep, wide-field surveys, like Hubble’s Frontier Fields, revealed distant, massive galaxy clusters.
The Ultra-Deep and eXtreme Deep Fields surpassed the original Hubble Deep Field.
Even more distant and fainter secrets are out there.
Future missions, like WFIRST and LUVOIR, will reveal them.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.Ethan Siegel is the author of Beyond the Galaxy and Treknology. You can pre-order his third book, currently in development: the Encyclopaedia Cosmologica.