Hubble Legacy Field: Galaxies Across Time
This graphic reveals close-up images of 15 galaxies from the 265,000 galaxies in the Hubble Legacy Field.
The galaxies are scattered across time, from 550 million years ago to 13 billion years ago. Their light is just arriving at Earth now, after crossing space for billions of years. This collection of images allows astronomers to look back in time to see galaxies when they were very young, in the earliest epochs of the universe. The universe is 13.8 billion years old.
The top panel of snapshots shows mature "adult" galaxies; the middle panel shows galaxies in their "teenage" years when they are growing and changing dramatically; and the bottom panel shows small, youthful galaxies. The "look-back time" is at the bottom of each image.
The snapshot in the top panel at upper left reveals a fully developed spiral galaxy teeming with stars. The galaxy is shown as it appeared just 550 million years ago. In the bottom panel at lower right is a tiny, young, red galaxy from the universe's early days. The barely visible galaxy appears red because its light has been stretched to longer, redder wavelengths due to the expansion of space. This galaxy existed during a time when the cosmos was just 6% of its current age. Light from this galaxy traveled for 13 billion years to reach Earth.
NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth and D. Magee (University of California, Santa Cruz), K. Whitaker (University of Connecticut), R. Bouwens (Leiden University), P. Oesch (University of Geneva), and the Hubble Legacy Field team