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


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    $\begingroup$ Partially answered in astronomy.stackexchange.com/questions/496/… $\endgroup$
    – ProfRob
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 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
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 19:43
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    $\begingroup$ 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
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 21:37
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    $\begingroup$ 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
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 0:32
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    $\begingroup$ @KenG That is the answer. $\endgroup$
    – ProfRob
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 16:24

1 Answer 1


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.


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