VISTA View Is Chock Full Of Galaxies

by Jason Major on March 22, 2012

Mosaic of infrared images from ESO's UltraVISTA survey reveal over 200,000 distant galaxies. (ESO/UltraVISTA team. Acknowledgement: TERAPIX/CNRS/INSU/CASU.)

See all those tiny points of light in this image? Most of them aren’t stars; they’re entire galaxies, seen by the European Southern Observatory’s VISTA survey telescope located at the Paranal Observatory in Chile.

This is a combination of over 6000 images taken with a total exposure time of 55 hours, and is the widest deep view of the sky ever taken in infrared light.

The galaxies in this VISTA image are only visible in infrared light because they are very far away. The ever-increasing expansion rate of the Universe shifts the light coming from the most distant objects (like early galaxies) out of visible wavelengths and into the infrared spectrum.

(See a full-size version — large 253 mb file.)

ESO’s VISTA (Visual and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy)┬átelescope is the world’s largest and most powerful infrared observatory, and has the ability to peer deep into the Universe to reveal these incredibly distant, incredibly ancient structures.

By studying such faraway objects astronomers can better understand how the structures of galaxies and galactic clusters evolved throughout time.

The region seen in this deep view is an otherwise “unremarkable” and apparently empty section of sky located in the constellation Sextans.

Read more on the ESO website here.

The VISTA telescope in its dome at sunset. Its primary mirror is 4.1 meters wide. G. H├╝depohl/ESO.

 

About 

A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

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