Hubble ultra deep field, courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

Each smudge and patch of light is a galaxy.

An impressive statement, yet it is not exaggerated just to make the headline look good.  Edwin Hubble probably never dreamed of what was to be possible with the latest edition of the Hubble telescope.  Anyone with an imagination must find this fascinating and it has irreversibly lowered the odds of the existence of extraterrestrial life, not to mentioned an insight to the origins of existence.

Astronomers asked NASA to point the Hubble Space Telescope at an otherwise unremarkable section of the sky through a relatively unknown constellation called Fornax. Viewed from earth this patch of sky would reveal just one or two stars in our own galaxy.

It took the Hubble Telescope  10 days (a million second long exposure) to reveal something nothing short of remarkable in a section of sky no more than one tenth of the diameter of the moon.  Thousands of galaxys filled the image.  Our planet, one of eight in our solar system, orbits a rather unremarkable star.  One of 5 thousand million stars just in our own galaxy.  That’s a big number and difficult to visualise but bear with it.

Each of the ten thousand galaxy’s shown in the Hubble ultra deep field image has millions of stars.  Each star could have a solar system like our own with planets orbiting. Each planet has the possibility of a civilisation.

Looking at the image the idea that the earth may be the only planet in the entire universe that harbors life seems crazy.  Our galaxy is one of many in the night sky.  The ultra deep field image is taken from a really small patch of sky and represents a snap shot in time from billions of years ago.  Light from those galaxy’s has literally taken millions and millions of  years to get to earth.   Our galaxy is one of many many galaxys and that the universe is big.  Numbers so big that it really becomes irrelevant.  From earth we can see about three thousand stars on a clear night and it almost seems like the universe is not that big, but, nothing could be farther from the truth.

This was to attempt to see the farthest human kind has ever seen into the nigh sky.  Looking at this patch of sky from earth would show nothing.  The picture above shows the number of galaxys in nothing. 

Most people have better things to do than guess the size of the universe but the thought of life on other planets has captured the imagination of odd compilers.  Odds of 500:1 of there being extra terrestrial life makes it seem quite likely.  With the development of even more advanced and sophisticated telescopes to be set forth into the night our guess is that these odds will get even smaller.  The single most important picture even taken in humanity.


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