Is there a limit in which the mass in space obscure the ability to detect anything farther even as technology progresses?


  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Partially answered in astronomy.stackexchange.com/questions/496/… $\endgroup$ – ProfRob Apr 15 '19 at 10:58
  • $\begingroup$ Well, we can see the CBR (albeit redshifted) so we can see back to when the universe went from opaque to clear. $\endgroup$ – zeta-band Apr 15 '19 at 19:43
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Which means the answer is yes-- the matter that was the source of the CBR obscures out ability to directly see anything farther away or further back in time. We will never see its light, with any technology, but we can model it based on what we do see, or maybe we will someday see neutrinos or gravitational waves from further back. I wouldn't count on it. $\endgroup$ – Ken G Apr 15 '19 at 21:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ And of course further back in time than the source of the CMB, there's not much to see anyway, apart from very uniform plasma. $\endgroup$ – PM 2Ring Apr 16 '19 at 0:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @KenG That is the answer. $\endgroup$ – ProfRob Apr 16 '19 at 16:24

It depends. In some areas, far-away stuff is obscured by obstacles in the foreground. In other places, we can see almost all the way to the earliest (and furthest-away) galaxies, like in the Hubble Deep Field image:

enter image description here

The very earliest objects have so much redshift they disappear out of view for visible-light telescopes. That's where the JWST comes in: because it's an infrared telescope, it can capture objects that have too much redshift to be visible in a visible-light telescope.

Advances help us see more in other ways too. Gaia data revealed some small nearby galaxies which are mostly obscured by our own galaxy.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.