Space Hubble Telescope News

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Hubble Photographs Warped Galaxy as Camera Passes Milestone



The Hubble telescope has captured an image of an unusual edge-on galaxy, revealing remarkable details of its warped dusty disk and showing how colliding galaxies spawn the formation of new generations of stars. The dust and spiral arms of normal spiral galaxies, like our own Milky Way, appear flat when viewed edge-on. This Hubble Heritage image of ESO 510-G13 shows a galaxy that, by contrast, has an unusual twisted disk structure, first seen in ground-based photographs.

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New View of Primordial Helium Traces the Structure of Early Universe



NASA's Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) satellite has given astronomers their best glimpse yet at the ghostly cobweb of helium gas left over from the big bang, which underlies the universe's structure. The helium is not found in galaxies or stars but spread thinly through the vastness of space. The helium traces the architecture of the universe back to very early times. This structure arose from small gravitational instabilities seeded in the chaos just after the big bang. These FUSE observations help confirm theoretical models of how matter in the expanding universe condensed into a web-like structure pervading all of the space between galaxies.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Burst of Star Formation Drives Bubble in Galaxy's Core



These NASA Hubble Space Telescope snapshots reveal dramatic activities within the core of the galaxy NGC 3079, where a lumpy bubble of hot gas is rising from a cauldron of glowing matter. The picture at left shows the bubble in the center of the galaxy's disk. The structure is more than 3,000 light-years wide and rises 3,500 light-years above the galaxy's disk. The smaller photo at right is a close-up view of the bubble. Astronomers suspect that the bubble is being blown by "winds" (high-speed streams of particles) released during a burst of star formation. Gaseous filaments at the top of the bubble are whirling around in a vortex and are being expelled into space. Eventually, this gas will rain down upon the galaxy's disk where it may collide with gas clouds, compress them, and form a new generation of stars. The two white dots just above the bubble are probably stars in the galaxy.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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A Galaxy Blazes With Star Formation



Most galaxies form new stars at a fairly slow rate, but members of a rare class known as "starburst" galaxies blaze with extremely active star formation. The galaxy NGC 3310 is one such starburst galaxy that is forming clusters of new stars at a prodigious rate. Scientists using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope are perfecting a technique to determine the history of starburst activity in NGC 3310 by studying the colors of its star clusters.

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Ancient Black Hole Speeds Through Sun's Galactic Neighborhood, Devouring Companion Star



Data from the Space Telescope Science Institute's Digitized Sky Survey has played an important supporting role in helping radio and X-ray astronomers discover an ancient black hole speeding through the Sun's galactic neighborhood. The rogue black hole is devouring a small companion star as the pair travels in an eccentric orbit looping to the outer reaches of our Milky Way galaxy. It is believed that the black hole is the remnant of a massive star that lived out its brief life billions of years ago and later was gravitationally kicked from its home star cluster to wander the Galaxy with its companion.

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Peering into the Core of a Globular Cluster



Astronomers have used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to peer into the center of a dense swarm of stars called Omega Centauri. Located some 17,000 light-years from Earth, Omega Centauri is a massive globular star cluster, containing several million stars swirling in locked orbits around a common center of gravity. The stars are packed so densely in the cluster's core that it is difficult for ground-based telescopes to make out individual stars. Hubble's high resolution is able to pick up where ground-based telescopes leave off, capturing distinct points of light from stars at the very center of the cluster.

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Gravitational Lens Helps Hubble and Keck Discover Galaxy Building Block



A very small, faint galaxy -- possibly one of the long sought "building blocks" of present-day galaxies -- has been discovered by a collaboration between NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the 10-meter Keck Telescopes at a tremendous distance of 13.4 billion light-years (based on the estimate of 14 billion years as the age of the universe). The discovery was made possible by examining small areas of the sky viewed through massive intervening clusters of galaxies. These act as a powerful gravitational lens, magnifying distant objects and allowing scientists to probe how galaxies assemble at very early times. This has profound implications for our understanding of how and when the first stars and galaxies formed in the universe.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Scientists Track "Perfect Storm" on Mars



A pair of eagle-eyed NASA spacecraft – the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) and Hubble Space Telescope – are giving amazed astronomers a ringside seat to the biggest global dust storm seen on Mars in several decades. The Martian dust storm, larger by far than any seen on Earth, has raised a cloud of dust that has engulfed the entire planet for several months.

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AURA's OPUS Software Licensed to Celera Genomics



The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) has reached an agreement with Celera Genomics Group, an Applera Corporation business in Rockville, MD, on the use of AURA's Operational Pipeline Unified Systems (OPUS) software package. Originally designed for use in the Hubble Space Telescope program, OPUS is being used by Celera to process bioinformatics data. OPUS was developed by the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is managed by AURA under contract with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. It is used to process astronomical data generated by the Hubble Space Telescope for use by researchers studying the universe, and it has been widely employed in other space observatories and NASA projects. Facing similar needs for the use of their large databases, Celera is licensing OPUS from AURA to assist in the processing of data from their proteomics and genomics projects.

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$10 Million NSF Grant to Fund "National Virtual Observatory"



The National Virtual Observatory (NVO) will unite astronomical databases of many earthbound and orbital observatories, taking advantage of the latest computer technology and data storage and analysis techniques. The goal is to maximize the potential for new scientific insights from the data by making them available in an accessible, seamlessly unified form to professional researchers, amateur astronomers, and students. The new project is funded by a five- year, $10 million Information Technology Research grant from the National Science Foundation. Organizers characterize their goal as "building the framework" for the National Virtual Observatory.

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Hubble Reveals Ultraviolet Galactic Ring



The appearance of a galaxy can depend strongly on the color of the light with which it is viewed. This Hubble Heritage image of NGC 6782 illustrates a pronounced example of this effect. This spiral galaxy, when seen in visible light, exhibits tightly wound spiral arms that give it a pinwheel shape similar to that of many other spirals. However, when the galaxy is viewed in ultraviolet light with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, its shape is startlingly different.

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Hubble Makes First Direct Measurements of Atmosphere on World Around another Star



Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have made the first direct detection of the atmosphere of a planet orbiting a star outside our solar system. Their unique observations demonstrate that it is possible with Hubble and other telescopes to measure the chemical makeup of alien planet atmospheres and to potentially search for the chemical markers of life beyond Earth. The planet orbits a yellow, Sun-like star called HD 209458, located 150 light-years away in the constellation Pegasus.

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A Giant Star Factory in Neighboring Galaxy NGC 6822



Resembling curling flames from a campfire, this magnificent nebula in a neighboring galaxy is giving astronomers new insight into the fierce birth of stars, which may have been more a typical occurrence in the early universe. The glowing gas cloud, called Hubble-V, has a diameter of about 200 light-years. A faint tail of gas trailing off the top of this Hubble Space Telescope image sits opposite a dense cluster of bright stars at the bottom of the irregularly shaped nebula.

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Hubble Sends Season's Greetings from the Cosmos to Earth



Looking like a colorful holiday card, this image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope reveals a vibrant green and red nebula far from Earth, where nature seems to have put on the traditional colors of the season. These colors, produced by the light emitted by oxygen and hydrogen, help astronomers investigate the star-forming processes in nebulas such as NGC 2080. Nicknamed the "Ghost Head Nebula," NGC 2080 is one of a chain of star-forming regions lying south of the 30 Doradus nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud that have attracted special attention. These regions have been studied in detail with Hubble and have long been identified as unique star-forming sites. 30 Doradus is the largest star-forming complex in the whole local group of galaxies.

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Thackeray's Globules in IC 2944



Strangely glowing dark clouds float serenely in this remarkable and beautiful image taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. These dense, opaque dust clouds - known as "globules" - are silhouetted against nearby bright stars in the busy star-forming region, IC 2944. Astronomer A.D. Thackeray first spied the globules in IC 2944 in 1950. Globules like these have been known since Dutch-American astronomer Bart Bok first drew attention to such objects in 1947. But astronomers still know very little about their origin and nature, except that they are generally associated with areas of star formation, called "HII regions" due to the presence of hydrogen gas. IC 2944 is filled with gas and dust that is illuminated and heated by a loose cluster of massive stars. These stars are much hotter and much more massive than our Sun.

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Stellar 'Fireworks Finale' Came First in the Young Universe



The deepest views of the cosmos from the Hubble Space Telescope yield clues that the very first stars may have burst into the universe as brilliantly and spectacularly as a fireworks finale. Except in this case, the finale came first, long before Earth, the Sun and the Milky Way Galaxy formed. Studies of Hubble's deepest views of the heavens lead to the preliminary conclusion that the universe made a significant portion of its stars in a torrential firestorm of star birth, which abruptly lit up the pitch-dark heavens just a few hundred million years after the "big bang," the tremendous explosion that created the cosmos. Though stars continue to be born today in galaxies, the star birth rate could be a trickle compared to the predicted gusher of stars in those opulent early years.

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Hubble Reveals "Backwards" Spiral Galaxy



Astronomers have found a spiral galaxy that may be spinning to the beat of a different cosmic drummer. To the surprise of astronomers, the galaxy, called NGC 4622, appears to be rotating in the opposite direction to what they expected. Pictures from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope helped astronomers determine that the galaxy may be spinning clockwise by showing which side of the galaxy is closer to Earth. This Hubble telescope photo of the oddball galaxy is presented by the Hubble Heritage team. The image shows NGC 4622 and its outer pair of winding arms full of new stars [shown in blue].

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New Instrument Package to Expand Space Telescope's Vision



NASA's Servicing Mission 3B for the Hubble Space Telescope will give the orbiting observatory a new camera that will significantly increase Hubble's abilities and enable a broad array of new astronomical discoveries. The Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) covers twice the area, has twice the sharpness, and is up to five times more sensitive to light than Hubble's workhorse camera, the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. The servicing mission will begin on Feb. 28 with the launch of the space shuttle Columbia. The simulated image [above, right] depicts how the cosmos will look through the "eyes" of the ACS.

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Test Your Skills as a 'Galaxy Hunter'



Journey to the deepest regions of space and wrestle with the cosmic giants called galaxies. In "Galaxy Hunter," students can go online and use actual data from the Hubble Space Telescope to study galaxies in deep space. Produced by the formal education team at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., the interdisciplinary, Web-based lesson blends astronomy and math skills. A team of scientists, teachers, artists, and Web programmers developed the interactive lesson to bring the results of cutting-edge astronomical observations into the classroom. "Galaxy Hunter" is on the Amazing Space Website, AmazingSpace. Amazing Space is a group of Web-based, interactive activities primarily designed for classroom use, from kindergarten through twelfth grade.

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A Galaxy That's All Wound Up



Tightly wound, almost concentric, arms of dark dust encircle the bright nucleus of the galaxy NGC 2787 in this Hubble Space Telescope image. In astronomer Edwin Hubble's galaxy classification scheme, NGC 2787 is classified as an SB0, a barred lenticular galaxy. These lens-shaped galaxies show little or no evidence of the grand spiral arms that occur in their more photogenic cousins, though NGC 2787 does sport a faint bar, not apparent in this image. The picture was created by the Hubble Heritage team.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 
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