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Seeing Farther: Chandra Deep Field-South

Looking back in space and time Full Story Below

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Dust heated by star formation and black holes is highlighted by infrared light.
Visible light offers glimpses into galaxy evolution, tracing stellar populations over cosmic time.
Ultraviolet emission highlights star formation through cosmic time.
This deep X-ray image reveals the growth of active supermassive black holes within distant galaxies.
Galaxies dominate this composite image, helping researchers trace how galaxies change over billions of years.
Infrared
Visible
Ultraviolet
X-ray
Multi-wavelength

Seeing Farther: Chandra Deep Field-South

Providing a peek into more than 13 billion years of galaxy history and makeup.

By staring at the same area of the sky for extended periods, space-based telescopes have the ability to capture faint light that left distant objects in the universe billions of years ago—but is only now arriving at Earth. Known as deep fields, these four-dimensional observations allow researchers to study the makeup of the early universe and learn how galaxies change over time. Deep fields are selected because they avoid the densely populated disk of the Milky Way, ensuring the dust, stars, and other objects in our own galaxy do not obscure the view.

Researchers studied the Chandra Deep Field-South region with several telescopes in multiple wavelengths of light. These data allowed them to learn about the properties and the energetic processes that govern galaxies’ appearance and evolution. Surprisingly, they found that some of the earliest galaxies were brighter than expected, a byproduct of galaxies releasing incredibly high amounts of ionizing radiation. They also learned that black holes in the early universe mostly grew in bursts rather than through the slow accumulation of matter, and that galaxies grew from small clumps of hot, young stars made up of fewer elements, mostly hydrogen and helium. This image—and all deep fields—show us a sliver of the early universe, allowing researchers to learn about its evolution over 95% of cosmic history.

Quick Facts: Chandra Deep Field-South

Also known as: Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey-South field (GOODS-South field)
Farthest distance from Earth: Approximately 13 billion light-years
Type of object: Deep field
Location in the sky: Fornax Constellation
Did you know: This view includes thousands of galaxies—many of which are forming stars and contain a central black hole—and was built from nearly 4,000 hours of observations.

Explore More About Seeing Farther

Find out more with these additional resources from NASA’s Universe of Learning

Viewspace thumb ViewSpace Videos Learn more about deep fields and what they reveal
Universe of learning Universe of Learning Read about the deepest X-ray image ever obtained
Astropix Astropix Images of deep fields and surveys across the electromagnetic spectrum
Astro vis Astroviz Fly through the most distant visible-light view of the universe

Credits: Seeing Farther

Infrared image of the GOODS-South field from the Spitzer Space Telescope courtesy of JPL/Caltech

Visible light image of the GOODS-South field from the Hubble Space Telescope courtesy of NASA, ESA

Ultraviolet light image of the GOODS-South field from the Hubble Space Telescope courtesy of NASA, ESA

X-ray light image of the Chandra Deep Field-South from the Chandra X-ray Observatory courtesy of NASA

Multi-wavelength image of the Chandra Deep Field-South (infrared, visible, ultraviolet, X-ray) courtesy of NASA, ESA, J. Depasquale


Content development by Claire Blome, Timothy Rhue II, Dr. Brandon Lawton, Dr. Quyen Hart (STScI)

Design by Elizabeth Wheatley (STScI)

Web Development by Philippe Batigne (STScI)

Subject-matter expertise provided by Dr. Antara R. Basu-Zych (UMBC/NASA GSFC)