The Hubble telescope has captured some of the oldest galaxies yet seen in the universe using a new infared camera, scientists in Britain said on Tuesday.
The camera newly installed on the telescope by NASA astronauts has snapped the galaxies ‘which are likely to be the most distant ever seen,’ said the scientists who studied the images.
The galaxies date back to when the universe was still in its infancy, less than one billion years after the Big Bang, they said. The Wide Field Camera 3 uses infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye, with wavelengths about twice as long as visible light.
The highly sensitive camera can detect starlight from distant objects — light that has been ‘stretched’ by the expanding universe. The images were taken in a region of space called the Ultra Deep Field which was first captured by the Hubble and studied by scientists five years ago.
"Hubble has now revisited the Ultra Deep Field which we first studied five years ago, taking infrared images which are more sensitive than anything obtained before," said Daniel Stark, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge who was involved in the work. "We can now look even further back in time, identifying galaxies when the universe was only five per cent of its current age — within one billion years of the Big Bang," he said.