The Oldest Photograph Ever Taken……

1 Jan

So What is It……


The image is known as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field.  It was taken over a period of 4 months at 2 exposures of 21 minutes in each of the 400 orbits of the Earth required to position the telescope.  It represents 11 millions seconds of exposure in what was thought to be the darkest piece of the night sky……

How Big is It……


If you hold your thumb at arms length and the stretch your arm to 11 times its original length you will have some idea of the area of the sky it covers.  It is smaller than the area you would see looking through one of those tiny straws that come stuck to the side of a juice carton.  To map the entire sky at this resolution would take 1,000,000 years……

What Does it Show……


There are over 10,000 galaxies in the image, each containing 100 billion stars.  Some of the closer galaxies are obvious to those of you used to astronomical images but ever point of light is a galaxy.  That’s 10,000,000,000,000,000 (ten thousand million billion) stars and countless planets.  This is of no surprise to cosmologists and astronomers but what is of interest is some of the more distant objects.  Looking deeper into the image is looking farther back in time.  At these distances there are objects which were forming only 400,000 years after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago and never before seen by science.  This is the earliest light produced in the universe we call home……

High resolution images can be found at the NASA website or Google images.  You can zoom in to view the image in more detail.  Animations have also been created from the data and can be found at YouTube…….


3 Responses to “The Oldest Photograph Ever Taken……”

  1. WordsFallFromMyEyes January 1, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    I totally would never have come across this in my day to day, but I liked the name of your blog. This was so fascinating. It’s just too impossible. I would not have known that number if you didn’t define it. This was a choice post. Excellent.

    • A Dripping Tap January 2, 2012 at 9:34 am #

      Thanks. I’m a physics nut and fascinated by all things from the largest cosmology to weird world of quantum mechanics. I’ll add you to my mail out for any science stuff that I post if that’s okay with you. Incidentally 1 light year, the distance light travels in 1 year, is 9.51 trillion kilometers (186,000 miles per second). Our galaxy, the Milkyway is 10,000 light years across. That’s 9,500,000,000,000,000km. Pleased you appreciated it.



  1. My Favourite Nebula (and Other Astronomical Phenomenon)…… « A Dripping Tap's Blog - September 29, 2012

    […] a follow up to ‘The Oldest Photograph Ever Taken’ I thought I’d cover some of my other favourite things from out there in the depths of […]

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