In 2003, the Hubble Space Telescope looked even farther back in time and found as many as 10,000 galaxies, using the recently installed Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and the recently-revived Near Infrared Camera and Multi-object Spectrometer (NICMOS). The million-second-long exposure (11.3 days) captured galaxies that are too faint to be seen by ground-based telescopes, or even by Hubble in its previous faraway looks, called the Hubble Deep Fields.
The ACS image, known as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF), shows a wide range of galaxies of various sizes, shapes, colors and ages. Some were formed just a short time after the universe was created, about 13 billion years ago. The infrared NICMOS image complements the visible-light ACS image and reveals some of the most-distant galaxies ever seen.
The ACS picture required a series of exposures taken over the course of 400 Hubble orbits around Earth. This is such a big chunk of the telescope's annual observing time that Space Telescope Science Institute Director, Steven Beckwith, used his own Director's Discretionary Time to provide the needed resources. Just like the previous HDFs, the new data are expected to galvanize the astronomical community and lead to dozens of research papers that will offer new insights into the birth and evolution of galaxies.