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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hubble Sees New Galaxies

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Staring at a "blank'' patch of the universe, the Hubble Space Telescope captured images of hundreds of galaxies so faint they never before have been seen.

The images are of the faintest stars and galaxies ever seen, some 4 billion times dimmer than what can be seen with the naked eye, astronomers reported Monday.

Robert Williams, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, said the findings were a treasure trove for astronomers that could possibly include the most distant, and hence the oldest, galaxies ever captured on film.

"In archaeological terms, it is similar to finding a royal city, but we don't have the dates yet,'' he said. "We don't know yet if we are seeing the most distant objects or not.''

A report on the deep space survey was delivered to the national meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

Williams said the finding was released quickly into the public domain so that the world's astronomers could immediately begin studying the data, described by some as "the astronomical equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls.''

To gather the views, the Hubble Space Telescope was aimed at a target and allowed to capture light for 10 consecutive days. The target was a point in the sky near the handle of the Big Dipper, a part of the universe continuously in view of the orbiting telescope.