Hubble’s Last ‘Frontier Field’ Image Shows Thousands Of Glittering Galaxies

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Star Trek called space the “final frontier,” and the Hubble Space Telescope uses the same term for the most distant images ever captured.

Alex DeMetrick reports, Hubble has now taken its last deep look into space.

Over the last three decades, there have been only a handful of times the Hubble Space Telescope has been pointed at what looked like empty space, and stared at it for 100 hours.

Now comes the last “frontier field” image of distant galaxies that it will ever make, ending the photo series that began in 2014.

hubble galaxies Hubbles Last Frontier Field Image Shows Thousands Of Glittering Galaxies

Galaxy cluster Abell 370 contains several hundred galaxies tied together by the mutual pull of gravity. Photographed in a combination of visible and near-infrared light, the brightest and largest galaxies are the yellow-white, massive, elliptical galaxies containing many hundreds of billions of stars each. Spiral galaxies have younger populations of stars and are bluish. Mysterious-looking arcs of blue light are distorted images of remote galaxies behind the cluster. The cluster acts as a huge lens in space that magnifies and stretches images of background galaxies like a funhouse mirror.

“That picture is just as if you were looking through a straw,” Jeletic says. “It’s that tiny a spot in the sky and there’s thousands and thousands of galaxies.”

Hubble’s photos have increased the estimate from billions of galaxies in the universe, to something even harder to imagine.

“There’s probably 2 trillion galaxies,” Jeletic says.

These deep dives don’t see the most distant galaxies head-on, rather gravity from closer galaxies bends their light around, creating curves and streaks, which is actually the same galaxy projected multiple times.

“We actually saw galaxies that are 13.2 billion light years away,” according to Jeletic. “So those are some of the smallest, dimmest galaxies we’ve seen in the history of Hubble.”

During the past 27 years, Hubble has helped produce a lot of new science.

“We’ve taken 1.3 million pictures to date, and those pictures have produced over 15,000 papers on its discoveries,” Jeletic says. “So we’re getting more than we ever imagined for the Hubble Space Telescope.”

Hubble is controlled at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, while its images are downloaded and studied at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

Hubble’s 27th launch anniversary was celebrated on April 24.

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