Anglican Samizdat

January 5, 2010

When Aslan sang

Filed under: Cosmology — David Jenkins @ 5:50 pm

The earliest photos of our universe from the Hubble telescope:

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The faintest objects, circled in yellow in the insets on the left-hand side, represent galaxies as they appeared about 13 billion years ago.

The Hubble Space Telescope has captured the earliest image yet of the universe — just 600 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was just a toddler.

Scientists released the photo Tuesday at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, D.C. It’s the most complete picture of the early universe so far, showing galaxies with stars that are already hundreds of millions of years old, along with the unmistakable primordial signs of the first cluster of stars.

These young galaxies haven’t yet formed their familiar spiral or elliptical shapes and are much smaller and quite blue in colour. That’s mostly because at this stage, they don’t contain many heavy metals, said Garth Illingworth, a University of California, Santa Cruz, astronomy professor who was among those releasing the photo.

“We’re seeing very small galaxies that are seeds of the great galaxies today,” Illingworth said in a news conference.

“We are on the way to the beginning,” said astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson of the American Museum of Natural History. “Every step closer to the beginning tells you something you did not know before.”

Contrary to appearance, humanity is not insignificant in the face of the vastness of the universe because mankind bears the image of its Creator. Nor does the size of the universe diminish the centrality of humanity’s significance. God is extravagant not parsimonious: in his extravagance, he created a home for us that will always contain an unexplored corner, however long he tarries.


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