Press Release

Half a Million Galaxies Celebrate CFHT’s 30th Anniversary

By SpaceRef Editor
December 9, 2009
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To celebrate the 30th anniversary of its first light, the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope releases a 370 megapixel deep sky image with half a million galaxies, an exclusive illustrated essay on its past and current achievements, and new wallpapers of the telescope.

High resolution wide-field imaging has been one of the trademarks of the observatory for the past decade. The CFHT Legacy Survey Deep Field #1 image made available to the public today is the result of the accumulation of several hundreds of hours of light integration over five years (2003-2008) with the CFHT using the 340 megapixel camera called MegaCam.

When stacking together all these individual MegaCam images gathered over the years, a dense wallpaper of distant galaxies is revealed. While a few foreground stars from our own galaxy are present in the field, approximately half a million galaxies can be counted on the entire image. These ultra-deep images are then used to explore gravitational lensing effects induced by the large scale structure of the Universe as well as the most distant galaxies and quasars.

A computer screen is too small to display the whole image at full resolution, but the image can still be viewed in all its details by zooming in and out and moving all around the field from your browser. Enlarge it to the full size of your screen… and enjoy the trip!

After viewing a creative and humorous illustrated essay made by David Gillette for the PBS affiliate Twin Cities Public Television following his visit to CFHT in Waimea and to Mauna Kea, CFHT decided to commission David for an illustrated essay describing CFHT’s story over the past 30 years. Once established the main ideas CFHT wanted to communicate to the audience, David was given free rein to produce the final version, entitled “30 Years at the Top”.

CFHT’s astronomer and photographer Jean-Charles Cuillandre took two new photographs of CFHT in September 2009 to celebrate CFHT’s anniversary. They are available for download as wallpapers in various screen sizes.

For more information and to view the 370 megapixel image, watch the essay, and download the wallpapers, visit the following web page:

SpaceRef staff editor.