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  Hubble Deep Field South
AAO telescopes assist Hubble Space Telescope

Over the Christmas and New Year of 1995/1996, the Hubble Space Telescope spent hundreds of hours examining a small patch of northern sky. The Hubble Deep Field (HDF), as it became known, provided the 'deepest' ever image of the Universe, and provides astronomers with valuable information about the formation of galaxies out to distances of 10 billion light years.

In October this year, the HST again spent hundreds of hours looking at a small patch of sky but this time in the south, called the Hubble Deep Field South (HDF-S). The picture shows a section of the HDF-S. To see the whole HDF-S, click on the picture (courtesy of R. Williams (STScI), the HDF-S Team and NASA).

The two Anglo-Australian Observatory telescopes, the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) and the  UK Schmidt Telescope (UKST) helped the Hubble Space Telescope find thousands of new galaxies. The telescopes were used to help choose the patch of sky in which the HST found the previously unknown galaxies.

The Field contains a distant quasar at the centre of the field. The quasar was used to light-up material lying between the Earth and quasar, yielding new information on otherwise invisible material lying many thousands of millions of light years from the Earth. This material may be associated with the formation of star systems such as our own galaxy, and may reveal some of the early history of the Universe.

Finding a suitable patch of sky was not easy. Areas to look at are very limited, due to the constraints of the HST orbit and the need to avoid pointing at the Sun and the Earth. Other limitations include avoiding bright stars and not being obscured by our own Galaxy. In fact, there are only about half a dozen suitable patches.

A patch of sky in the constellation of Tucana containing a likely quasar was identified by analysing a photographic plate taken over ten years ago with the UKST. The quasar was confirmed with the 2-degree field instrument on the AAT. The quasar is over 10 thousand million light years from Earth its relatively bright optical magnitude has led to it being the choice for the HDF-S.


Official Media Release

AAO HDF-S Scientific Homepage

AAO Homepage


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