Given the fact that NASA and the ESA are about to celebrate Hubble's 25th year in operation—indeed, it's hard to believe it has been a quarter of a century already—now is the perfect time to look back at its most astounding images.

HUFD, otherwise known as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field—taken years after its lesser-known predecessor (from the mid-1990's), Hubble' s 'Deep Field' image—definitely qualifies as one of the most iconic images of all time... ranking up there with Voyager's pale blue dot, even (which is a pretty impressive feat to match).

Like PBD, Hubble's first iterations were a pretty huge risk (For the pale blue dot's part, astronomers worried that Voyager's cameras could be irreparably damaged if they accidently looked directly at the Sun). Telescope time is an invaluable, not to mention finite, commodity. In fact, each year, over 1,000 proposals are submitted for review. Naturally, not all of them can be granted, which kind of makes the whole thing all the more absurd.

To simplify, the teams selected random patches of sky that were lacking in visible stars or galaxies, or any other type of 'noise' that could obstruct or skew the light from background objects. The rest, as they say, is history.

 Click on the image to enlarge.

Information Sources: 

  • "Hubble's Deepest View Ever of the Universe Unveils Earliest Galaxies" (HubbleSite)
  • Hubble Ultra-Deep Field (Wikipedia)

Image Resources: 

  • Hubble's Ultra Deep Field, Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI) and the HUDF Team
  • Map of HUDF's Location, Credit: NASA
  • Hubble Vector, By UniverseGrowth Group (Source)
  • Big Bang Rendering, Credit: Science Photo Library

See Also: 

See a much larger image here, or explore a high-resolution, zoomable copy here.

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