TEMPE, Ariz. -- Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have put together a comprehensive, and colorful, picture of the universe. The Ultraviolet Coverage of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (UVUDF) project gives insight into star formation, according to researchers.
The study has given researchers information about stars in a range of about 5 billion to 10 billion light years away, which is the period where most stars in the universe were born. Previously, researchers had only had information on nearer and farther star formation, but not this important middle range.
Researchers used ultraviolet light for the study. Ultraviolet light comes from the hottest, most massive and youngest stars. So, by observing ultraviolet light wavelengths, researchers get a direct look at what galaxies are producing stars and where in the galaxies the stars are being produced.
Previously, astronomers had studied the Hubble Ultra Deep Field with visible and near infared light, so adding ultraviolet light to the study completes the combination with the full range of colors available to Hubble.
The resulting image from all of these wavelengths contains approximately 10,000 galaxies extending back in time to within a few hundred million years of the big bang.
Studies like this one give insight into how galaxies like the Milky Way grew in size from a small collection of hot stars to the Earth-containing galaxy of today. Since Earth's atmosphere filters most ultraviolet light, a space-based telescope like the Hubble is necessary.
ASU students will have the opportunity to work with images like those captured in the UVUDF study. Students will analyze, in detail, star formation over the past 10 billion years. The school itself has had major involvement with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3, the camera necessary for ultraviolet imaging like in this study.