Universe: A portion of latest image
Universe: A portion of latest image

A stunning image of the universe in never-seen-before detail has been captured by the Hubble telescope in deep space.

Hubble used its two cameras to create the eXtreme Deep Field to effectively look back in time by snapping galaxies that formed billions of years ago.

Given the time it takes for light to travel across the universe, the images are thought to capture a view of the galaxies from 13.7 billion years ago.

The light emitted by the ancient galaxies is 10 million times less than what the human eye can see.

The images are a patchwork quilt comprising more than 2,000 separate shots, assembled over more than 10 years.

Hubble focused on each small individual patch of space for 500 hours to capture a level of detail previously unseen.

The most distant dots on the image, drawn from billions of miles away, and are the 'seedlings' out of which grew our own Milky Way galaxy.

Red dots are dying galaxies in the process of collapsing in on themselves, while the bright blue dots represent light from young galaxies - or at least galaxies which were young nearly 13.2 billion years ago.

The new vista updates a previous one which was developed in 2003-2004 and last updated in 2009, named the Hubble Ultra Deep Field.

Hailing the eXtreme Deep Field, scientist Gareth Illingworth of California University said: "The XDF is the deepest image of te sky ever obtained and reveals the fainted and most distant galaxies ever seen.

"XDF allows us to explore further back in time than ever before."

The Hubble telescope was launched in 1990 jointly by NASA and the European Space Agency.

Over the years, it has delivered a series of spectacular images which peered deeper back in time than ever before and pushed forward understanding of the universe in which we live.