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Going deep to fill in a blank piece of sky.

Viewed with an ordinary telescope, a certain patch of sky in the direction of the constellation Sextans appears virtually empty -- certainly devoid of any bright objects. But the European Southern Observatory's New Technology Telescope in La Serena, Chile, sees something quite differen: an enormous number of extremely faint and remote galaxies that fill nearly the entire field of view.

To obtain an image of these dim galaxies, astronomer Bruce Peterson of the Mount Stromlo Observatory in Australia used a sophisticated electronic detector sensitive to yellow light to capture 41 10-minute exposures of this region. The individual pictures were then processed by computer and combined into a single, false-color image, a portion of which appears here (white brightest).

The picture shown corresponds to a region of sky about 1.1 arc-minutes wide (about one-thirtieth the width of the moon as it appears from Earth). It reveals a number of galaxies bright enough to display elongated shapes. It also shows many fainter galaxies. On the standard astronomical brightness scale, the dimmest of these objects have a magnitude of 29. No other ground- or spaced-based optical telescope has imaged an object this faint.

Astronomers are now making additional, more detailed measurements of these newly discovered celestial objects to try to distinguish between faint, nearby galaxies and extremely bright, distant galaxies.
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Title Annotation:a seemingly empty region of space is found to contain a large number of remote galaxies
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 15, 1991
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