Today in history

April 25, 1990–The crew of the U.S. space shuttle Discovery places the Hubble Space Telescope, a long-term space-based observatory, into a low orbit around Earth.

The space telescope, conceived in the 1940s, designed in the 1970s, and built in the 1980s, was designed to give astronomers an unparalleled view of the solar system, the galaxy, and the universe. Initially, Hubble’s operators suffered a setback when a lens aberration was discovered, but a repair mission by space-walking astronauts in December 1993 successfully fixed the problem, and Hubble began sending back its first breathtaking images of the universe.



Space photo of the day

A new Hubble image of the Twin Jet Nebula.

The glowing and expanding shells of gas clearly visible in this image represent the final stages of life for an old star of low to intermediate mass. The star has not only ejected its outer layers, but the exposed remnant core is now illuminating these layers – resulting in a spectacular light show like the one seen here. However, the Twin Jet Nebula is not just any planetary nebula, it is a bipolar nebula.
Ordinary planetary nebulae have one star at their centre, bipolar nebulae have two, in a binary star system. Astronomers have found that the two stars in this pair each have around the same mass as the Sun, ranging from 0.6 to 1.0 solar masses for the smaller star, and from 1.0 to 1.4 solar masses for its larger companion. The larger star is approaching the end of its days and has already ejected its outer layers of gas into space, whereas its partner is further evolved, and is a small white dwarf.

The Twin Jet Nebula

New view of the Pillars of Creation

Twenty years ago, the Hubble Space Telescope snapped one of its most iconic images ever. The three towering columns of gas bathed in the light of hot, young stars came to be called the Pillars of Creation — and they showed up on everything from t-shirts to coffee mugs to rugs. Now, to celebrate its 25th anniversary, Hubble has taken a new image of the well-known region in the Eagle Nebula, about 6,500 light-years away.

The new image is in infrared.


A nice pic here of the older image.


Space Pic of the Day

A rose made of galaxies.

In celebration of the 21st anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope’s deployment into space, astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., pointed Hubble’s eye to an especially photogenic group of interacting galaxies called Arp 273.

The larger of the spiral galaxies, known as UGC 1810, has a disk that is tidally distorted into a rose-like shape by the gravitational tidal pull of the companion galaxy below it, known as UGC 1813. A swath of blue jewels across the top is the combined light from clusters of intensely bright and hot young blue stars. These massive stars glow fiercely in ultraviolet light.


Bubble Nebula

WIRED Space Photo of the Day:

The Bubble Nebula (NGC7635) is one of three shells of gas surrounding the massive star BD+602522, the bright star near the center of the bubble. Energetic radiation from the star ionizes the shell, causing it to glow. About six light-years in diameter, the Bubble Nebula is located in the direction of the constellation Cassiopeia. The magenta wisps near the bottom-right of the image are an unexpected bonus—the wisps are the remnants of a supernova that exploded thousands of years ago. This is the first optical image of the supernova remnant, which was discovered at radio wavelengths by the Canadian Galactic Plane Survey in 2005.


Looking into deep space


This long-exposure Hubble Space Telescope image of massive galaxy cluster Abell 2744 is the deepest ever made of any cluster of galaxies. It shows some of the faintest and youngest galaxies ever detected in space. Abell 2744, located in the constellation Sculptor, appears in the foreground of this image. It contains several hundred galaxies as they looked 3.5 billion years ago. The immense gravity in Abell 2744 acts as a gravitational lens to warp space and brighten and magnify images of nearly 3,000 distant background galaxies.