Hubble Telescope: Looking Back in Time at the Distant Universe

Exploring Space Lectures Series
Presenters: Sandra Faber, Lick Observatory; and Robert Williams, Space Telescope Science Institute

One of the Hubble Space Telescope’s greatest triumphs has been the clear view it has given of very distant galaxies. Sandra Faber, professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz and an astronomer at the University of California’s Lick Observatory; and Robert Williams, Senior Research Astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute at John Hopkins University, talk about how this clearer view has enabled astronomers to piece together the formation of structure in the universe.

Working in tandem with large ground-based telescopes, the Deep Fields of the Hubble, with their diverse collection of galaxies, supernovae, and gravitationally lensed objects, rewarded astronomers with a wealth of eagerly anticipated insights into the nature of the early universe. Aided by detailed computer simulations that have applied known physical laws to complex data, astronomers have now been able to construct a credible picture of how the universe evolved from its initial hot, formless state 13.7 billion years ago to its present state where complex structure exists everywhere, some of it capable of supporting life.