Previously, astronomers knew a lot about nearby galaxies, as well as galaxies far, far away. But information about star systems and galaxies roughly 5 and 10 billion light-years away from Earth -- a region corresponding to the galactic time when most stars where born -- have proved more elusive.
Thankfully, the Hubble Telescope has helped fill in the gaps. From 2004 to 2009, Hubble's Ultra Deep Field cameras collected visible and near-infrared exposures. And now, astronomers have pieced them together to form one of the most impressive images of the early universe.
The image displays some 10,000 galaxies, and features the light from stars born only a few hundred million years after the Big Bang -- a blink of the eye in space time.
The small red galaxies in the image are the oldest, born when the galaxy was just an infant -- 800 million years old. The bigger, brighter galaxies were in their prime some one billion years ago, when the cosmos was a bit more mature at 13 billion years old.