This seven-minute Hubblecast video helps explain how Hubble “looks back in time” to see the Universe as it was billions of years ago.
Hubblecast 68: The Hubble time machine
For episode 68 of the Hubblecast, Hubble transforms into more than just a telescope — it becomes a time machine! How can Hubble “look back in time” to see the Universe as it was billions of years ago? Dr. J explores the vast scale of our Universe, explaining how Hubble can be used to grasp cosmic distances, view very distant galaxies, and even explore our own past.
This video shows part of the IMAX short film “Hubble: Galaxies Across Space and Time”. This film transforms images and data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope into a voyage that sweeps viewers across the Universe and back into cosmic history. The film pans through the vibrant and diverse panorama of thousands of galaxies in an image from the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS). The ensuing 3D journey through these galaxies provides more than just a new perspective in space; it also takes the audience back in time. Because light takes time to journey across space, the galaxies farther away from Earth are seen further back in cosmic history. The virtual voyage reveals galaxies as they appeared billions of years ago, when they were still in the process of forming.
This clip takes an illustrative look at the Universe’s past, starting when it was only half a billion years old. This far back in time, our Milky Way may have just formed. However, the Earth only made an appearance just under 8.5 billion years later.
The entire history of the Earth has taken place over just a third of the Universe’s lifetime – from the Earth’s formation, to the emergence of dinosaurs, early life, and humans – to the present day, where astronomers use Hubble to view some of the Universe’s earliest inhabitants and explore our origins.