Hubble Legacy Field Image Shows 500 Million Year Old Universe

A newly released image from NASA and the ESA called the Hubble Legacy Field shows the Universe as it was when it was only 500 million years old.
John Loeffler

NASA and the ESA have released a new image called the Hubble Legacy Field that shows the universe as it was 13.3 billion years ago, only 500 million years after the Big Bang.

Hubble Legacy Field Shows Oldest Galaxies Ever Seen

Hubble Legacy Field
Source: 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

NASA and the ESA released their latest Hubble Image, called the Hubble Legacy View, that shows the universe as it was 13.3 billion years ago, a mere 500 million years after the Big Bang yet still full of ancient primordial galaxies.


According to NASA and the ESA, the image captures 265,000 galaxies at a wavelength range covering ultraviolet to near-infrared. The faintest of the galaxies in the image have a brightness just one ten-billionth of what humans can observe with their own eyes.

“Now that we have gone wider than in previous surveys, we are harvesting many more distant galaxies in the largest such dataset ever produced,” said Garth Illingworth, of the University of California at Santa Cruz and leader of the team effort to assemble the image. “No image will surpass this one until future space telescopes like James Webb are launched."

The image covers a stretch of sky about the size of the full moon seen here on Earth and was created from 7,500 individual exposures. The image is the first in a series of images astronomers working on the Legacy Field project hope to release.

"One exciting aspect of these new images is the large number of sensitive colour channels now available to view distant galaxies, especially in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum," said Rychard Bouwens, a team member of the effort from Leiden University in the Netherlands. "With images at so many frequencies, we can dissect the light from galaxies into the contributions from old and young stars, as well as active galactic nuclei."

Most Popular

The images are available to download in a variety of formats, including the original, uncompressed image itself, which is nearly a gigabyte in size.