55-Hour Exposure of a Tiny Patch of Sky Reveals 200,000 Galaxies

This photo is what you get when you point a massive 4.1 meter telescope (VISTA in Chile) at an unremarkable patch of night sky and capture six thousand separate exposures that provide an effective “shutter speed” of 55 hours. It’s an image that contains more than 200,000 individual galaxies, each containing countless stars and planets (to put the image into perspective, the famous Hubble Ultra-Deep Field contains “only” around 10,000 galaxies). And get this: this view only shows a tiny 0.004% of the entire sky!

Let’s zoom in a bit into the image to show how detailed the image actually is:

The original image measures 17,000×11,000px (~187 megapixels) and can be downloaded as a massive 250MB file.

(via Discover Magazine via

Image credit: Photograph by ESO/UltraVISTA team

  • Sep

    Wow. Just great. Hopefully they will do 100% of our sky!

  • will hall

    at 187 megapixels for 0.004% that would give a 4.6 Terapixel image. In which case you might like to look at the Terapixel project

  • will hall

    while the Hubble ultra deep field image may only have 10,000 galaxies in it, it only covers about 0.000006% of the sky and had an effective ‘shutter speed’ of roughly 11.5 days.
    If the area of sky in this image was captured with the same detail as the Hubble UDF then we could reasonably expect to see 6.5 million galaxies, or about 1.6E11 galaxies if the whole sky was imaged at the HUDF level

  • Erwann

    What is the probability that some of those galaxies are in fact “ghost” images of the same object behind complex-shaped gravitational lenses made of dark mater?

  • Flgraphics

    and we really think we’re the only one in the universe!
    it’s mind boggling to think how many other worlds, and possible civilizations there potentially are out there

  • W Boot

    we ??

  • Ariel Colbert

    Who’s we? I hope you don’t mean the whole world when you say “we really think we’re the only one in the universe.” I, for one, never believed that at all. You’re right, though. There could be other civilizations out there that are unknown to Earth.

  • Jack Arnold

    Where is my jet pack?  And where is my alien ambassador to the stars?
    That is what I want.

  • Arnoud

    could someone please beam me up!

  • SamIam9

    So vast that “vast” is utterly inadequate. 

  • Fernando1958

    very nice pic but is so sad that all those galaxies have no people on them, because… you know… we are all alone… yeah right!

  • Walter Wright

    So how is it, our old friend physicist Richard Feynman might ask, that God sent his only begotten son (not sun) to this particular little speck of dust for our salvation and benefit?

    Feynman’s answer, and mine, is that He probably didn’t:  I can’t believe the special stories that’ve been made up about our relationship to the universe at large because they seem to be…too simple, too connected, too local, too provincial. The “earth,” He came to “the earth”, one of the aspects God came to “the earth!” mind you, and look at what’s out there…? how can we…? it isn’t in proportion…! 

  • ray

    that is why the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to those who believe. men can never understand why a speck of dust in the vast universe will be so important to the all powerful God. whether you accept it by faith or look for more concrete proof is your choice.

  • sam

    What an indescribable unidentified distant lights are those. Who put them there? Why are they there? How great is the one who manages them there!

  • Fernando Comments

    200,00 galaxies? yeah, sure, but we are alone anyways :P

  • Tamara Lynn

    This gives me hope….that I somehow am on the wrong planet, as I have never felt I belonged, and that someday I will get to go home.

  • a/hamid

    a department consists of 9 villages, a solar system consists of 9 planets, now do the counts with the daira of 5 departments, a willaya with 25 dairates, a country with 45 willayates, a continent with more than 50 countries, and a planet with 5 continents, the you would reach the 7th sky. starting by planets forming the solar system;solar systems forming a galaxy, galaxies forming universe, universes forming the fifth sky,….etc to rech the seventh one.