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Record-breaking Hubble Space Telescope image – largest near-infrared image covers a section of the sky made up of six full moons

Record view of space: The Hubble Space Telescope has released the largest near-infrared image of the sky to date. The image shows galaxies and stellar cradles in a section of the sky nearly six times the size of a full moon, making it possible to detect even rare variants and evolutionary stages of galaxies. The close-up could also help identify targets for the new James Webb Space Telescope, which is less wide but can appear deeper.

Whether it’s the birthplace of a star, exoplanets, galaxies, or an image from the past nearest star: This is what was introduced over 30 years ago Hubble Space Telescope New Insights into the Universe It has given countless new insights to astronomy. while the new James Webb Space Telescope Operating primarily in the infrared range, Hubble is more comprehensive: its spectrum ranges from ultraviolet to visible to the near-infrared wavelength range.

These galaxies are up to 10 billion years old and have been imaged using the new DASH 3D scan. © Lamia Mola

A patch of sky the size of six full moons

The Hubble telescope has now set a new milestone in the near-infrared field. Thanks to the new recording technology, astronomers led by Lamia Moola of the University of Toronto were able to capture the largest near-infrared image ever made by Hubble. The 3D-DASH survey provides, for the first time, a full, high-resolution near-infrared survey of the entire COSMOS field, one of the richest datasets for extragalactic studies outside the Milky Way.

3D-DASH technology covers a total area of ​​1.35 square degrees in the sky, nearly six times the size of a full moon in the sky. Until now, such a large near-infrared image was available only from ground-based telescopes, which, however, provided lower resolutions and thus limited the possibilities of observation. The current record is set according to astronomers
It probably isn’t refracted by the James Webb Telescope either, because it tends to look into smaller sections at greater depth.

New technology has enabled recording recording

To image such a vast region of the sky, the research team used a new technology called Drift And Shift (DASH). With this, the Hubble telescope can target and record eight parts instead of just one part of the sky during orbit. This allows it to scan an area in high resolution in just 250 hours which previously would have taken the telescope 2,000 hours.

The individual recordings were then combined to form a comprehensive mosaic. “3D-DASH adds a new layer of unique observations to the field of COSMOS and is also a stepping stone for space surveys in the next decade,” says co-author Ivelina Momcheva of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg. “It gives us a glimpse into future scientific discoveries and allows us to develop new techniques for analyzing these large data sets.”

Rare objects and operations have been revealed

The new near-infrared image is particularly exciting for astronomy because it shows a large number of galaxies, stellar craters and other distant objects simultaneously, and thus also captures rare phenomena and processes. These include particularly giant galaxies, galaxies shortly before their merger or cradle, and highly active black holes.

“I am curious about giant galaxies, the most massive galaxies in the universe, that formed from the merging of other galaxies. How did their structures evolve and what changed their shape?” says Moola. “It was difficult to study these very rare events with the images found, which was the reason for the design of this large survey.”

Target Finder for the James Webb Telescope

3D-DASH technology could also help astronomers identify rare objects as targets for follow-up observations using the new James Webb Space Telescope. It’s the largest near-infrared image of the sky until the next generation of telescopes, such as the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope and Euclid, coming online in the next decade.

Until then, professional astronomers and amateur stargazers can explore the sky with an online interactive version of the DASH 3D image. (Astrophysical Journal, 2022; doi: 10.1021/acs.est.2c01204)

Source: Max Planck Institute for Astronomy