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Color Mapping

12.18.06

The Universe's First Fireworks

The right panel is an image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope of stars and galaxies in the Ursa Major constellation. This infrared image covers a region of space so large that light would take up to 100 million years to travel across it. The left panel is the same image after stars, galaxies and other sources were masked out. The remaining background light is from a period of time when the universe was less than one billion years old, and most likely originated from the universe's very first groups of objects -- either huge stars or voracious black holes. Darker shades in the image on the left correspond to dimmer parts of the background glow, while yellow and white show the brightest light.