Time, not space, limits
our view of the universe. Beyond a certain distance, light hasn’t
had time to reach us yet since the beginning of the universe.
The image above is the oldest and youngest picture
of the universe ever taken. Oldest, because it has taken the light
nearly 14 billion years to reach us. Youngest, because it is a
snapshot of our newborn universe, long before the first stars
and galaxies formed. The bright patterns show clumps of simple
matter that will eventually form stars and galaxies.
Although this light fills the entire night sky, it is so faint
and has so little
energy that it is detectable only with special instruments. This
colorized image was taken by NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy
2003. NASA’s WMAP satellite takes
images of the most distant part of the Universe observable from
Earth. The image shows the furthest we can see using any form
ABOVE: The furthest we can see (image colorized
and enhanced). The patterns show clumps of matter that will eventually
form galaxies of stars.