The Space Telescope operated by NASA and the European Space Agency has once again delivered a sensational view of the cosmos.
A scientific work that lasted nearly three years by researchers from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands and the University of La Laguna, has resulted in the deepest image of the Universe ever taken from space, recovering an enormous amount of light around the largest galaxies in the iconic Hubble Ultra-Deep Field.
Creating the most Iconic image to date
To create the deepest image of the Universe from space, scientists from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC) and the University of La Laguna (ULL), led by researcher Alejandro S. Borlaff used the original images that the Hubble snapped in a region called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF).
After improving the image-matching process, the team was able to recover an enormous amount of starlight that had been lost around the larger HUDF galaxies.
The light generated by all these “lost” stars would be equivalent to having recovered a complete galaxy and, in some cases, it means that many galaxies are practically twice the size that was initially thought.
As explained by astronomers, the HUDF is the result of combining hundreds of images taken with the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) of the HST during over 230 hours of observation which, in 2012, yielded the deepest image of the Universe taken until then.
The WFC3 camera was installed by astronauts in May 2009, when Hubble had been in space for 19 years.
This proved a great challenge to researchers because the complete set (camera + telescope) had never been tested on land, which made it difficult to calibrate.
To overcome this, they analyzed several thousand images from different regions of the sky, with the aim of improving the calibration of the telescope in orbit.
“What we have done is to go back to the archive of the original images, directly as observed by the HST, and improve the process of combination, aiming at the best image quality not only for the more distant smaller galaxies but also for the extended regions of the largest galaxies,” explained Borlaff.
The image of the universe which is now considered the deepest to date “was possible thanks to a striking improvement in the techniques of image processing which has been achieved in recent years, a field in which the group working in the IAC is at the forefront,” concludes Borlaff.