This is the Most Zoomed-In Photograph Ever Created by Mankind

What you’re looking at is the most zoomed-in photo ever shot by mankind. Titled the eXtreme Deep Field (XDF), it’s a followup to the famous Hubble Ultra-Deep Field photo created in the mid-2000s. Scientists combined 10-years-worth of Hubble Space Telescope photos to create this resulting image that shows 5,500 individual galaxies, some of which are one ten-billionth the brightness of what our human eyes can see.

The amount of photography and imagery that went into this image is staggering. The Hubble “space camera” was pointed at this tiny patch of sky for a total of 50 days, with a total cumulative exposure time of over 23 days (uber-long-exposure photography, anyone?). This resulted in 2,000 individual photos showing the same little section of the sky, all of which went into creating this photograph. It’s the “deepest image of the sky ever obtained” that reveals “the faintest and most distant galaxies ever seen.”

Click here for a high-res 2382×2078 version of the same photograph. Here’s a 100% crop from that image:

Here’s an image showing the field of view of the XDF photo in the night sky:

Want to know something else that’s mind-blowing? there might not be much else that’s deeper than what’s seen in this photo. Scientists say that the universe is 13.7 billion years old. The photo shows galaxies as old as 13.2 billion years — galaxies that were created shortly after the universe came into existence.

This is a story that certainly puts your terrestrial telephoto lenses to shame, eh?

  • David Cifuentes

    Wow!! That is what I call a Telephoto :) On the other hand, how vast the universe is!!

  • Samcornwell

    The question I really want answered is what if we could see back 13.7 billion years? That’s the beginning of time. The Big Bang. Would we just be looking at a big explosion or white light?

  • Mantis

    Well that’s the $64,000 question. We don’t know what happened before the big bang, and what caused it.

  • kimberly

    wait, is that elvis???

  • Thinker

    Amazing how all this was created by chance. Also amazing how civilizations believed there was always some sort of higher power that created it.What makes us really so different than in Galileo’s time? Inventing the wheel was just as innovating and exciting then to what mobile technology is today, were no different really, just more advanced. Those are my thoughts on the matter.

  • dkmdlb

    Ok now someone calculate the equivalent focal length in 35mm terms!

  • prak

    The big bang was before cause. Nothing “caused” it in the conventional sense of the word “caused”. I think. I’m not a physicist.

  • Norm Cooper

    so I copied the FOV shot into PS and measured the square (.32x.303) and then compared the overall image (7.3 x 8.59) or 28.35 x 22.8 tiles = 646.7 tiles for the overall image. then ‘assuming’ an even distribution of galaxies at 5500 per tile = 3.557MM galaxies in that view with the moon… if we are one in a million, there must be others out there somewhere..

    “You are the harbinger of death, Kara Thrace, you shall lead humanity to its end”

  • lloyd

    Is this another one of them images where it has colour added after? or did it come out all these different colours?

  • Chris

    The headline to this article isn’t really correct – it’s the *deepest* image taken, observing objects of extremely high magnitude. But it’s not the most *zoomed* image – some of our larger ground based telescopes can observe at greater-than-Hubble resolution through a combination of good site and adaptive optics, and the ~2×2 arcmin area isn’t terribly special in astronomy. The important point here is the cumulation of exposure time in multiple wavelength bands. Amazing stuff!

  • Chris

    Define “colour added after”. In astronomy we expose each filter separately, then (if we want to make a colour image like this – which isn’t actually done that much) combine the three images into a RGB composite after the fact. It’s the same principle that goes into making most colour images, it’s just not (usually) some automatic thing built into the detectors. The colour isn’t “added after” – all the colour information was always there. It’s just about how it’s displayed – three greyscale filter-band images each assigned to a different colour (red, blue or green) combine to make a single RGB colour image.

  • jacvsr

    The heavens declare the glory of God! (Psalm 19:1)

  • Zimbo Zambo

    I agree with you that the chance theory is unlikely and amazing, and that the possibility of there being “some sort of higher power that created” the universe is quite likely, even if all that “higher power” did was set evolution in motion. I don’t presume to know whether or not you are a Biblical creationist, but I would like to point out, regardless of your faith, that it’s just quite frankly impossible to attribute such creation to the “god” or “gods” of the Old Testament, considering the precise chronology present in the OT which dates the creation of the earth to roughly 6,000 years ago.

    The only completely logical conclusions are:

    a. the Genesis account IS NOT literally true, given the observable evidence (in
    accordance with the presently fixed laws of nature) of stars and galaxies
    having existed for up to 13 billion years, which poses a problem to
    traditional Christianity, since both Jesus’ and Paul’s alleged/recorded
    teachings at times rely on an acceptance of the Genesis account as
    being literally and concretely true.
    b. the Genesis account IS accurate, but only if:
    i. God created the stars and galaxies with the appearance of already being
    up to 13 billion years old, and/or
    ii. God miraculously sped up the speed of light so that the images of the
    stars would reach earth during the one day in which he allegedly created
    the stars, seemingly as an afterthought.
    (Note- God allegedly created light and darkness [as well as day and
    night] prior to his creation of the sun, moon (which is also described as a
    light!) and stars, although how light (and darkness, for that matter!) could
    exist prior to any light-giving objects is truly a mystery for the ages…or,
    more plausibly, just a common non-scientific late bronze-aged
    understanding of the universe)
    –> However, if either b.i., or b.ii. are true, then “God” is by no means
    “good,” at least by no humanly definable meaning of the word, since he
    would be guilty of at best, deceptive practices; at worst, out-and-out
    lying, and a chillingly cold scheme of tricking truth-seeking people into
    rejecting faith in him by observing nature’s laws, thus justifying his
    sending them to hell by the billions.
    –> Thus, truly, in order to be a traditional Christian, believing in the
    authority of the Bible, and by necessity, the literal, concrete truth of the
    Genesis account of “creation,” one must abandon all rational
    observations and logic, and adopt a distorted, deformed understanding
    of nature and reality, and their relationship to both. Hopefully, a mild
    self-inflicted psychosis will be the worst of their problems.

    As Cartman said so aptly: “No Kyle, God is not a dick.”
    Not, that is, unless one is willing to believe that he is. In which case,
    though such a person will never admit that he is a dick, God clearly
    must be, if the Bible is oh-so-literally true and concretely accurate.

  • guy

    “Is not He Who created the heavens and the earth able to create the like thereof?”― Yea, indeed! for He is the Creator Supreme, of skill and knowledge (infinite)! (81) Verily, when He intends a thing, His command is “Be” and it is! (82) So glory to Him in Whose hands is the dominion of all things; and to Him will ye be all brought back. (83)

  • guy

    “Is not He Who created the heavens and the earth able to create the like thereof?”― Yea, indeed! for He is the Creator Supreme, of skill and knowledge (infinite)! (81) Verily, when He intends a thing, His command is “Be” and it is! (82) So glory to Him in Whose hands is the dominion of all things; and to Him will ye be all brought back. (83) [Quran: 36:81-83]

  • 11

    about 75000 mm +- 10%

  • Samuel M. Smith

    On the cutaway of the larger deep field image, there appears to be one, if not two, merging galaxies. Very cool stuff. I have to wonder just how many star systems, planets, and other objects are devoured by the black holes at the centers before the two stabilize and become one larger galaxy.

  • Franco J. Torres


  • William Khoe

    The *observable* universe is 13.7 billion years old. So there could theoretically be something else past that, we just don’t know and will never be able to.

  • obbop

    Wait… over to the left and down.

    Is that a princess missing some clothing?

  • obbop

    It’s turtles all the way down.

  • Stephen

    We are Horton.

  • Stephen

    So Bimbo, where did that higher power come from, it’s father? We have no idea what the universe is, what we are, nothing.

  • Greetings

    Really really really wonderful…
    We still don’t know where exactly we are.. Somewhere in between the deepest and farthest.. :)

  • Matador

    So this was all created by an invisible omniscient being? What was she doing the whole time before she decided to create spider monkeys, the Big Bang, tsunamis, and the dinosaurs? What did she do before time?
    And most strangely, why hasn’t she checked in lately?

  • Biks Wigglesworth

    But I wouldn’t want to paint it…

  • quickpick

    perfect idea, totally second that! *standing ovations* arms race only provokes more arms race and makes the world none safer.. directing all of the arms race investments to education and scientific study we’d be able to solve much more problems in the world, than by just exploding people and things up.. everybody now, think about that!

  • T. Webb

    @Matador, what makes you so supremely confident that god “hasn’t checked in lately”? Or that the god hasn’t been working before, during, and after what you speak?

  • T. Webb

    @prak, what makes you so sure that the big bang was not without cause? The most basic philosophical question is, why is there something instead of nothing? Why?

  • Jasper Colt

    I just zoomed in on it even more. I now have the most zoomed-in photograph ever created by mankind! Muahahahaha

  • bash

    ah right, says so in a book so it must be true:)

  • Kathleen Sisco

    I’m with the Burbidgeses. Expansion and contraction. Sort of like pearls on a string?