Space Hubble Telescope News

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Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes Find "Lego-Block" Galaxies in Early Universe



NASA's Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes have joined forces to discover nine of the smallest, faintest, most compact galaxies ever observed in the distant universe. Blazing with the brilliance of millions of stars, each of the newly discovered galaxies is a hundred to a thousand times smaller than our Milky Way Galaxy. The bottom row of pictures shows several of these clumps (distance expressed in redshift value). Three of the galaxies appear to be slightly disrupted. Rather than being shaped like rounded blobs, they appear stretched into tadpole-like shapes. This is a sign that they may be interacting and merging with neighboring galaxies to form larger structures. The galaxies were observed in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys and the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer. Observations were also done with Spitzer's Infrared Array Camera and the European Southern Observatory's Infrared Spectrometer and Array Camera.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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STScI and JHU Astronomer Adam Riess Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences



The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has elected Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) astronomer and professor at the Johns Hopkins University Adam Riess as an Honorary Member. The Academy honors excellence by electing to membership remarkable men and women who have made preeminent contributions to their fields, and to the world. Riess joins a new class of Academy members drawn from the sciences, the arts and humanities, business, public affairs, and the nonprofit sector. The 212 scholars, scientists, artists, civic, corporate and philanthropic leaders come from 20 states and 15 countries, and range in age from 37 to 86. Represented among this year's newly elected members are more than 50 universities and more than a dozen corporations, as well as museums, national laboratories and private research institutes, media outlets and foundations. Riess is a leader of a team that, in 1998 co-discovered "dark energy", a mysterious repulsive force in the universe. Dark energy is the biggest mystery now confronting astrophysics, and Riess continues doing observations to deduce what dark energy is. The 38-year-old astrophysicist has been at STScI since 1999.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble's Deepest View of Universe Unveils Never-Before-Seen Galaxies



NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has made the deepest image of the universe ever taken in near-infrared light. The faintest and reddest objects in the image are galaxies that formed 600 million years after the Big Bang. No galaxies have been seen before at such early times. The new deep view, taken in late August 2009, also provides insights into how galaxies grew in their formative years early in the universe's history. The image was taken in the same region as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF), which was taken in 2004 and is the deepest visible-light image of the universe. Hubble's newly installed Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) collects light from near-infrared wavelengths and therefore looks even deeper into the universe, because the light from very distant galaxies is stretched out of the ultraviolet and visible regions of the spectrum into near-infrared wavelengths by the expansion of the universe.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Space Telescopes Reveal Secrets of Turbulent Black Hole



An international team of astronomers using five different telescopes has uncovered striking features around a supermassive black hole in the core of the distant galaxy Markarian 509. They found a very hot corona hovering above the black hole and cold gas "bullets" in hotter diffuse gas, speeding outward with velocities over 1 million miles per hour. This corona absorbs and reprocesses the ultraviolet light from the accretion disk encircling the black hole, energizing it and converting it into X-rays. This discovery allows astronomers to make sense of some of the observations of active galaxies that have been hard to explain so far. The heart of the campaign consisted of repeated visible, X-ray, and gamma-ray observations with ESA's XMM-Newton and INTEGRAL satellites, which monitored Markarian 509 for six weeks. This was followed by long observations with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. Prior to these observations short snapshots to monitor the behavior of the source at all wavelengths were taken with NASA's Swift satellite. The combined efforts of all these instruments gave astronomers an unprecedented insight into the core of an active galaxy.

The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph aboard Hubble reveals that the coolest gas in the line of sight toward Markarian 509 has 14 different velocity components at various locations in the innermost parts of this galaxy. Hubble's data, combined with X-ray observations, show that most of the visible outflowing gas is blown off from a dusty gas disk surrounding the central region more than 15 light-years away from the black hole. This outflow consists of dense, cold blobs or gas bullets embedded in hotter diffuse gas. The international consortium responsible for this campaign consists of 26 astronomers from 21 institutes on 4 continents. The first results of this campaign will be published as a series of seven papers in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. More results are in preparation.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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A Death Star's Ghostly Glow



In writer Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Tell-Tale Heart," a killer confesses his crime after he thinks he hears the beating of his victim's heart. The heartbeat turns out to be an illusion. Astronomers, however, discovered a real "tell-tale heart" in space, 6,500 light-years from Earth. The "heart" is the crushed core of a long-dead star, called a neutron star, which exploded as a supernova and is now still beating with rhythmic precision. Evidence of its heartbeat are rapid-fire, lighthouse-like pulses of energy from the fast-spinning neutron star. The stellar relic is embedded in the center of the Crab Nebula, the expanding, tattered remains of the doomed star.

The nebula was first identified in 1731 and named in 1844. In 1928, Edwin Hubble linked the nebula to a supernova first witnessed in the spring of 1054 A.D. Now, the eerie glow of the burned-out star reveals itself in this new Hubble Space Telescope snapshot of the heart of the Crab Nebula. The green hue, representative of the broad color range of the camera filter used, gives the nebula a Halloween theme.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Tiny Neptune Moon Spotted by Hubble May Have Broken from Larger Moon



The phrase "a chip off the old block" apparently also applies to the outer moons of our solar system.

A tiny moon whirling around Neptune that was uncovered in Hubble Space Telescope photographs taken in 2013 has puzzled astronomers ever since then because it is very close to a much larger moon named Proteus. The orbits of the two moons are presently 7,500 miles apart.

Proteus, at 260 miles in diameter, is roughly the size of the state of Ohio. By contrast, Hippocamp is just 20 miles across, or the size of metropolitan Columbus, Ohio. Proteus should have gravitationally swept aside or swallowed the moon while clearing out its orbital path.

Smoking-gun evidence for Hippocamp's origin comes from NASA Voyager 2 images from 1989 that show a large impact crater on Proteus, almost large enough to have shattered the moon. Apparently, a little piece of Proteus got kicked off and has slowly migrated away from the parent body.

Neptune's satellite system has a violent and tortured history. Many billions of years ago, Neptune captured the large moon Triton from the Kuiper Belt. Triton's gravity would have torn up Neptune's original satellite system. Triton settled into a circular orbit and the debris from shattered Neptunian moons re-coalesced into a second generation of natural satellites. However, comet bombardment continued to tear things up, leading to the birth of Hippocamp, which might be considered a third-generation satellite.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Spies Brown Dwarfs in Nearby Stellar Nursery



Probing deep within a neighborhood stellar nursery, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope uncovered a swarm of newborn brown dwarfs. The orbiting observatory's near-infrared camera revealed about 50 of these objects throughout the Orion Nebula's Trapezium cluster [image at right], about 1,500 light-years from Earth. Appearing like glistening precious stones surrounding a setting of sparkling diamonds, more than 300 fledgling stars and brown dwarfs surround the brightest, most massive stars [center of picture] in Hubble's view of the Trapezium cluster's central region. The brown dwarfs are too dim to be seen in an image taken by the Hubble telescope's visible-light camera [picture at left].

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Celebrates 15th Anniversary with Spectacular New Images



During the 15 years NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has orbited the Earth, it has taken more than 700,000 photos of the cosmos; images that have awed, astounded and even confounded astronomers and the public.

NASA released new views today of two of the most well-known objects Hubble has ever observed: the Whirlpool Galaxy (spiral galaxy M51)
and the Eagle Nebula
. These new images are among the largest and sharpest Hubble has ever taken. They were made with Hubble's newest camera, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). The images are so incredibly sharp, they could be enlarged to billboard size and still retain stunning details.

For the 15th anniversary, scientists used the ACS to record a new region of the eerie-looking Eagle Nebula. The Eagle Nebula image reveals a tall, dense tower of gas being sculpted by ultraviolet light from a group of massive, hot stars. The new Whirlpool Galaxy image showcases the spiral galaxy's classic features, from its curving arms, where newborn stars reside, to its yellowish central core that serves as home for older stars. A feature of considerable interest is the companion galaxy located at the end of one of the spiral arms.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Black Hole in Search of a Home



A team of European astronomers has used two of the most powerful astronomical facilities available, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Cerro Paranal, to find a bright quasar without a massive host galaxy. Quasars are powerful and typically very distant sources of prodigious amounts of radiation. They are commonly associated with galaxies containing an active central black hole. The team confidently concludes that the quasar on the left, HE0450-2958 (in the center, distance about 5 billion light-years) does not have a massive host galaxy. The quasar HE1239-2426 to the right (at a distance of 1.5 billion light-years), has a normal host galaxy which displays large spiral arms.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Captures a "Five-Star" Rated Gravitational Lens



NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured the first-ever picture of a group of five star-like images of a single distant quasar.

The multiple-image effect seen in the Hubble picture is produced by a process called gravitational lensing, in which the gravitational field of a massive object - in this case, a cluster of galaxies – bends and amplifies light from an object – in this case, a quasar – farther behind it.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Sees 'Comet Galaxy' Being Ripped Apart By Galaxy Cluster



NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, in collaboration with several other ground- and space- based telescopes, has captured a galaxy being ripped apart by a galaxy cluster's gravitational field and harsh environment.

The finding sheds light on the mysterious process by which gas-rich spiral-shaped galaxies might evolve into gas-poor irregular- or elliptical-shaped galaxies over billions of years. The new observations also reveal one mechanism for forming the millions of "homeless" stars seen scattered throughout galaxy clusters.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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New Red Spot Appears on Jupiter



In what's beginning to look like a case of planetary measles, a third red spot has appeared alongside its cousins – the Great Red Spot and Red Spot Jr. – in the turbulent Jovian atmosphere. This third red spot, which is a fraction of the size of the two other features, lies to the west of the Great Red Spot in the same latitude band of clouds. The visible-light images were taken on May 9 and 10 with Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2.

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Galaxy History Revealed in This Colorful Hubble View



More than 12 billion years of cosmic history are shown in this unprecedented, panoramic, full-color view of thousands of galaxies in various stages of assembly. This image, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, was made from mosaics taken in September and October 2009 with the newly installed Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and in 2004 with the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). The view covers a portion of the southern field of a large galaxy census called the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS), a deep-sky study by several observatories to trace the evolution of galaxies.

The final image combines a broad range of colors, from the ultraviolet, through visible light, and into the near-infrared. Such a detailed multi-color view of the universe has never before been assembled in such a combination of color, clarity, accuracy, and depth.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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NASA Telescopes Help Discover Surprisingly Young Galaxy



Astronomers have uncovered one of the youngest galaxies in the distant universe, with stars that formed 13.5 billion years ago, a mere 200 million years after the Big Bang. The finding addresses questions about when the first galaxies arose, and how the early universe evolved. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope was the first to spot the newfound galaxy. Detailed observations from the W.M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea in Hawaii revealed the observed light dates to when the universe was only 950 million years old; the universe formed about 13.7 billion years ago. Infrared data from both Hubble and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope revealed the galaxy's stars are quite mature, having formed when the universe was just a toddler at 200 million years old. The galaxy's image is being magnified by the gravity of a massive cluster of galaxies (Abell 383) parked in front of it, making it appear 11 times brighter. This phenomenon is called gravitational lensing.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Space Telescopes Reveal Secrets of Turbulent Black Hole



An international team of astronomers using five different telescopes has uncovered striking features around a supermassive black hole in the core of the distant galaxy Markarian 509. They found a very hot corona hovering above the black hole and cold gas "bullets" in hotter diffuse gas, speeding outward with velocities over 1 million miles per hour. This corona absorbs and reprocesses the ultraviolet light from the accretion disk encircling the black hole, energizing it and converting it into X-rays. This discovery allows astronomers to make sense of some of the observations of active galaxies that have been hard to explain so far. The heart of the campaign consisted of repeated visible, X-ray, and gamma-ray observations with ESA's XMM-Newton and INTEGRAL satellites, which monitored Markarian 509 for six weeks. This was followed by long observations with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. Prior to these observations short snapshots to monitor the behavior of the source at all wavelengths were taken with NASA's Swift satellite. The combined efforts of all these instruments gave astronomers an unprecedented insight into the core of an active galaxy.

The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph aboard Hubble reveals that the coolest gas in the line of sight toward Markarian 509 has 14 different velocity components at various locations in the innermost parts of this galaxy. Hubble's data, combined with X-ray observations, show that most of the visible outflowing gas is blown off from a dusty gas disk surrounding the central region more than 15 light-years away from the black hole. This outflow consists of dense, cold blobs or gas bullets embedded in hotter diffuse gas. The international consortium responsible for this campaign consists of 26 astronomers from 21 institutes on 4 continents. The first results of this campaign will be published as a series of seven papers in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. More results are in preparation.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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A Pair of Fledgling Planets Directly Seen Growing Around a Young Star



In order to grow to Jupiter size or larger, a gas giant planet must slurp large quantities of hydrogen and other gases from the disk in which it forms. Astronomers have looked for evidence of this process, but direct observations are challenging because planets become lost in the glare of their star. A team has succeeded in making ground-based observations of two planets accreting matter from a disk. It represents only the second multi-planet system to be directly imaged.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Captures Volcanic Eruption Plume From Io



The Hubble telescope has snapped a picture of a 400-kilometer-high (250-mile-high) plume of gas and dust from a volcanic eruption on Io, Jupiter's large, innermost moon.

Io was passing in front of Jupiter when Hubble took this image. The plume appears as an orange patch just off the edge of Io [at eight o'clock], against the blue background of Jupiter's clouds. Io's volcanic eruptions blast material hundreds of kilometers into space in giant plumes of gas and dust. In this image, material must have been blown out of the volcano at more than 2,000 mph to form a plume of this size, which is the largest yet seen on Io.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Stays on Trail of Fading Gamma-Ray Burst Fireball, Results Point to Extragalactic Origin



Hubble telescope observations of the ever-fading fireball from one of the universe's most mysterious phenomena ? a gamma-ray burst ? is reinforcing the emerging view that these titanic explosions happen far away in other galaxies and are among the most spectacularly energetic events in the universe.

In this Hubble image of the gamma-ray burst's visible-light component, the fireball has faded to 1/500th its brightness since its discovery in March 1997 by ground-based telescopes. Hubble continues to clearly see the fireball [center of picture] and a cloud of material surrounding it, which is considered to be its host galaxy.

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Hubble Catches Up with a Blue Straggler Star



Astronomers have long been mystified by observations of a few hot, bright, apparently young stars residing in well-established communities where most of their neighbors are much older.

With the help of the Hubble telescope, astronomers now have evidence that may eventually help solve the 45-year-old mystery of how these enigmatic stars, called blue stragglers, were formed. For the first time, astronomers have confirmed that a blue straggler in the core of a globular cluster (a very dense community of stars) is a massive, rapidly rotating star that is spinning 75 times faster than the Sun. This finding provides proof that blue stragglers are created by collisions or other intimate encounters in an overcrowded cluster core. A ground-based telescope image
shows the crowded core of the globular cluster 47 Tucanae, which is teeming with blue stragglers. Peering into the heart of the cluster's brilliant core, Hubble separated the dense clump of stars into many individual stars
.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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NASA's Upcoming Webb Telescope Will Survey Saturn and Titan



Among the most intriguing solar-system targets Webb will study after its launch in 2021 are Saturn and its moon, Titan. Saturn’s weather undergoes seasons like Earth, except that they last 7-1/2 years. Occasionally, storms encircle the planet, making Saturnian weather an active field of study. Titan also experiences weather, since it is the only moon in our solar system with a substantial atmosphere. Methane rain fills surface seas that then evaporate and fuel more storms, much like the water cycle on Earth. Webb will investigate seasonal changes on both Saturn and Titan over the duration of its mission.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 
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