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Hubble Ultra Deep Field 3-D Fly-Through
August 26, 2013 10:04 PM   Subscribe

What would it look like to fly through the distant universe?
posted by curious nu (40 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Where's the music? And isn't there supposed to be a giant elliptical galaxy at the end?
posted by cosmic.osmo at 10:14 PM on August 26, 2013


Where's the music? And isn't there supposed to be a giant elliptical galaxy at the end?

Wasn't that the big yellow one in the top right at the end?

I like to imagine that life in that last big yellow one looks out across one edge of their galaxy and sees a vast expanse of nothingness, forever reminding them of... whatever the hell it is that a giant scary void of reality would remind you of.

Assuming that that is the last galaxy and that its not simply the zoom limit for Hubble and that 'reality' ends at the edges of the universe and there isn't something more that I'm unaware of.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:26 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I refuse to believe we are the only planet in the universe that is capable of supporting real estate agents.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:27 PM on August 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


ObPedant: In the first frame of acceleration the oncoming light would have blueshifted out of the visible spectrum into UV and beyond and you wouldn't be able to see a thing after that. Oh yeah, and you'd be a molecule-thick puree on the back wall of your spaceship. Also, stuff would be moving and changing because you're backtracking the light and playing their history forward. And other stuff. Okay, carry on.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:48 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


damn. I am nowhere near my 3d monitor. please tell me this fly through is actually viewable in 3d via tridef or similar.
posted by Sparx at 10:51 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


So can we zoom in on a planet in that last orange galaxy to see what our great great great great to the 10 billionth grandfather is doing that got us into this mess?
posted by sammyo at 10:59 PM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


It looks like particles in water. I can't even begin to wrap my head around this.
posted by mochapickle at 11:08 PM on August 26, 2013


Azathoth?
posted by vrakatar at 11:10 PM on August 26, 2013


At the end there's supposed to be screaming. So much screaming.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:16 PM on August 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Spinning through infinity, galaxies upon entire galaxies, and all the distance between, and out beyond the limit of our light, our haunted planet. To paraphrase Laurie Anderson.

Limitless galaxies, limitless stars, limitless planets with limitless possibilities. Within the laws of physics and evolutionary competition, every opportunity for life takes its chance. What wonders must be out there!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:37 PM on August 26, 2013


Far. Too far. Far too far. Unless there is some way back! Quickly! Way out there, how could a man live yet not die of longing for the Green Hills of Earth?
posted by Goofyy at 12:01 AM on August 27, 2013


I refuse to believe we are the only planet in the universe that is capable of supporting real estate agents.

If we are, then I'd have to accept that fact as proof of the existence of an Old Testament style god.
posted by rdr at 12:05 AM on August 27, 2013


That was FANTASTIC; good find. Two questions:

Is it possible to say how fast a spacecraft having this view would be going? And:

Kokuryu, have you been sitting on that line for a year or two until the right thread came up?
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 12:18 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it possible to say how fast a spacecraft having this view would be going?

I kept waiting for the bright flash and then for all of the stars to turn to streaks, followed by a jump to hyperspace, but it just kept plodding along.
posted by three blind mice at 12:38 AM on August 27, 2013


Is it possible to say how fast a spacecraft having this view would be going?

A half-informed lay opinion: take it for what it's worth, which is nothing. If the most distant object reached in this simulation is the most distant object detected in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field imaging project (and I don't know that it is), then it's something like 13 billion light years away. Presumably it is because it's black beyond it, which at a guess indicates that we're looking back toward the birth of the universe and there's no light of that age traveling toward us from that direction. Anyway, that would mean we traveled 13 billion light years in 1 minute. So, like, 7 quadrillion times the speed of light or thereabouts.

Someone who knows what they're talking about might want to take over here.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:51 AM on August 27, 2013


Oh among the many possible things that may make that guesstimate worthless is the fact that the universe has been expanding all that time. I have no idea how to factor that in except to reiterate that I'm probably wrong in every particular.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:55 AM on August 27, 2013


I'm curious about what the starting point for our journey in this video is. I don't think we're starting from the Milky Way. Anybody have any insight on that?

There's a very similar, but I think better, video here released by Japanese researchers earlier this month.

Wikipedia also has a great article on the observable universe, with this awesome visualization (and the huge version).

I still don't understand why some visualizations of the large-scale structure of the universe are hourglass-shaped like that in that video I linked. I'm surely missing something obvious.
posted by Sleeper at 1:02 AM on August 27, 2013


The only vantage point to see all those galaxies in the starting arrangement would be from the Milky Way, no?
posted by panaceanot at 1:33 AM on August 27, 2013


Well, the trajectory leads from our galaxy to the galaxy seen at the end-point of the video.

But the description seems to indicate that from the very beginning of the video we start out a long way away from our own galaxy along that line:
most galaxies visible in the above video are seen when the universe was only a fraction of its current age, were still forming, and have unusual shapes when compared to modern galaxies. No mature looking spiral galaxies such as our Milky Way or the Andromeda galaxy yet exist.
If the galaxies in the video are the ones seen in the young universe, then they're very far-away galaxies.

What I really want to see is Celestia expanded so that you can explore galaxies the way you explore stars.
posted by Sleeper at 1:56 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


As I understand relativity, there is no 'universe' that makes any sense as a single entity. You HAVE to pick a frame of reference, and then you get your universe, but it will look (and be) different from that seen from any other frame of reference. You cannot think of a 'frozen in one moment in time' universal universe - well, you can and we all do, but it's not anything like reality. Everything is cruelly bounded by c.

"Aha!" you say, "But what if we have observers throughout space who simultaneously take a picture of their surroundings and then send them by radio to some intergalactic Wikipedia, could The Alien Jimmy Wales build the model and thus create the universe? He's got the ego for it, after all."

To which Einstein says "Vot is this simultaneously thing?"

It's hard for me to really grasp what it means to have the Star Trek model of the universe in my head while knowing it's wrong, but it's why the 3D flythrough seems to make such perfect sense while being something that could never ever be even slightly like a real thing. But I think this realisation helps keep me convinced that anything remotely like the Mosaic god would break reality so profoundly... and I thus have a diametrically opposed view to Einstein. My sense of wonder about the universe is my sense of no god whatsoever.
posted by Devonian at 2:04 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I still don't understand why some visualizations of the large-scale structure of the universe are hourglass-shaped like that in that video I linked.

I think the black areas are the parts of space hidden behind the Milky Way.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:11 AM on August 27, 2013


have you been sitting on that line for a year or two until the right thread came up?

No, you're out of order!
posted by bitteroldman at 4:04 AM on August 27, 2013


Required Music here.

Okay. Think back to the closing credits. How the hell did they get that so exactly right?
posted by eriko at 4:23 AM on August 27, 2013


Aren't most astronomy photos greatly enhanced to make colors, shapes, etc. stand out more? And aren't telescopes like the Hubble built to take in far, far more photons than our puny retinas can?

If that's true, would we really be able to see anything like this, even if we were flying through space like Superman?
posted by PlusDistance at 4:49 AM on August 27, 2013


sleeper, you're right, it begins with the forward view filled with a set of objects that are in an extremely small field of view from where we are now, about 3 arc minutes from the sources I can find. So yes, assuming that the subjective angle of view represented in the simulation is a more typical camera view angle, say between 50 and 90°, then yes, we're starting a very long way indeed from our galaxy -- and my numbers are bunk. The speed is still a ridiculously large multiple of C, but not in the quadrillions.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:03 AM on August 27, 2013


Where's the music?


Just beyond the troubled skyways
Young men dream of fire and starshine
I've been dreaming of my own green world
Far across the reach of space time


posted by Meatbomb at 6:11 AM on August 27, 2013


I still don't understand why some visualizations of the large-scale structure of the universe are hourglass-shaped like that in that video I linked. I'm surely missing something obvious.

To see lots of galaxies, you want to point your telescope away from the plane of the Milky Way, where dust gets in the way of seeing much. All large extragalactic surveys do this (except the one I work on, ha!), and it's frequently referred to as the "zone of avoidance", though I'm not sure if that's meant as a joke or not because it sounds pretty ridiculous.
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:48 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just beyond the troubled skyways
Young men dream of fire and starshine
I've been dreaming of my own green world
Far across the reach of space time


I thought of:

It's cold outside, there's no kind of atmosphere ...
posted by RobotHero at 7:03 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think I got a glimpse of a restaurant at the 1:00 mark.
posted by malocchio at 7:09 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Where's the music?

Here you go.
posted by googly at 7:39 AM on August 27, 2013


The tech has come a long way since 1998
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 7:48 AM on August 27, 2013


A half-informed lay opinion: take it for what it's worth, which is nothing. If the most distant object reached in this simulation is the most distant object detected in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field imaging project (and I don't know that it is), then it's something like 13 billion light years away. Presumably it is because it's black beyond it, which at a guess indicates that we're looking back toward the birth of the universe and there's no light of that age traveling toward us from that direction. Anyway, that would mean we traveled 13 billion light years in 1 minute. So, like, 7 quadrillion times the speed of light or thereabouts.
Distances in cosmology are a funny thing. 13 billion light years would be an approximate light travel time for an extremely distant redshift 8 galaxy, but in a sense it is now 30 billion light years away since the universe has kept on expanding in that time (that figure is the 'comoving distance'). It's about as faint as you'd naively expect something to be if it were a shade under 270 billion light years away (the 'luminosity distance') because of the way redshift saps the energy of the light in transit. This incidentally is why telescopes have such a hard time seeing things at that sort of distance and has a lot to do with why the universe looks mostly black - it's not because things look too small and you have trouble resolving them, but they're too faint and you have trouble detecting anything from them at all. In fact as you look further away things stop getting smaller as they do, but start getting bigger instead (since the universe as a whole back in time was smaller - this is why 'angular size distance' is not monotonic). This recent research is therefore more limited in scope than the authors might have thought.

So, it's black in the background for rather important reasons, which are best understood by reading up on Olbers' Paradox but the gist of it in this case is that the Hubble Space Telescope is an optical telescope, and the most distant radiation (from the afterglow of the Big Bang) is all in microwaves, so it doesn't see the background.

There's also the fact that as you look back in distance and therefore time there isn't anything lit up to look at because stars haven't formed yet. These are the cosmological dark ages and what happened in them, especially as they ended, are a topic of much research, as that JWST page explains.

Anyway, yes, the video involves you going back in time along the way (but if you're going faster than light all bets are off on that sort of thing) since you keep seeing the galaxies as you observe them here and now, not as they actually are now, and you're probably going faster than you estimate because the universe has been busy expanding in the time the light has been getting here.
posted by edd at 8:09 AM on August 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Since going faster than light is nonsense, this would have to be a time-lapse video sped up a billion times faster. Except that means that the galaxies should be moving rapidly--orbiting the stuff around them and moving away from each other and the viewer as the universe expands.

So it's nonsense to say "This is what it would look like if..." (there's no coherent way to finish that sentence).

At best this is an infographic illustrating abstractly the relative distances away from us that each of the objects in this photo were when the light we see started moving. Even then it's misleading unless you remember that the light from each of these things started at very different times. Some of them didn't even exist when the light we see from some of the others originated.
posted by straight at 10:06 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I really want to see is Celestia expanded so that you can explore galaxies the way you explore stars.

Celestia has a similar problem. If you teleport to Deneb, the sky displayed is not one you could ever see from Deneb at any time in the history of the universe, because Celestia doesn't re-calculate the positions of the stars based on when their light would reach Deneb. You're still seeing the positions of the stars at a moment when their light was simultaneously reaching Earth, except from a different imaginary perspective.
posted by straight at 10:24 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's kind of like this.
posted by Mister_A at 10:30 AM on August 27, 2013


The only vantage point to see all those galaxies in the starting arrangement would be from the Milky Way, no?

This is the Hubble Deep Field. These are all stars you can (theoretically) see with the Hubble telescope from its orbit around earth. These are an example of all the galaxies that can be seen in an area of space the size of a pencil eraser, as seen from the human eye on earth.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:42 AM on August 27, 2013


Where's the music?

Here you go.
posted by webmutant at 11:12 AM on August 27, 2013


I meant the spacial arrangement, KokuRyu.
posted by panaceanot at 3:16 AM on August 28, 2013


Sleeper: "I'm curious about what the starting point for our journey in this video is. I don't think we're starting from the Milky Way. Anybody have any insight on that?"

panaceanot: "The only vantage point to see all those galaxies in the starting arrangement would be from the Milky Way, no?"

The video is imagining that if you start with this picture, taken from Earth, in the Milky Way, then draw a line from Earth to the farthest thing in the picture, then imagine what you would see if you could move nonsensically fast along that line.

Sleeper was asking, How far along that line from Earth does the video start? A long way outside of the Milky Way?

And he's right, that given the "short" distance the POV moves before "passing" the first few galaxies, the POV must be starting a long way outside the Milky Way.

Except the whole thing is completely nonsense. The original Hubble picture contains light from all these galaxies that originated at vastly different times, depending on how far away each object is/was. So it's a mix of Galaxy A as it was 13 billion years ago, Galaxy B as it was 11 billion years ago, Galaxy C as it was 10 billion years ago, up to whatever the closest object in that picture is.

So if the POV starts near Galaxy Z, 3 billion light years from here, then an observer who was actually there at the time Galaxy Z looked like it does in the Hubble picture would be not be seeing all this, but rather Galaxy A as it was 10 billion years ago, Galaxy B as it was 8 billion years ago, Galaxy C as it was 7 billion years ago, etc.

So, again, this is probably best understood as a sort of infographic, using 3D space to abstractly illustrate the difference in how far away the various objects in the picture are/were from us.
posted by straight at 10:42 AM on August 28, 2013


Hubble Captured a Huge, Light-Year-Long Flaming Space Monster
posted by homunculus at 12:55 PM on August 30, 2013


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