Space Hubble Telescope News

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Hubble Pinpoints Farthest Protocluster of Galaxies Ever Seen



NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered a cluster of galaxies in the initial stages of construction – the most distant such grouping ever observed in the early universe.

In a random sky survey made in near-infrared light, Hubble spied five tiny galaxies clustered together 13.1 billion light-years away. They are among the brightest galaxies at that epoch and very young, existing just 600 million years after the universe's birth in the big bang.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Zooms in on Double Nucleus in Andromeda Galaxy



A new Hubble Space Telescope image centers on the 100-million-solar-mass black hole at the hub of the neighboring spiral galaxy M31, or the Andromeda galaxy, one of the few galaxies outside the Milky Way visible to the naked eye and the only other giant galaxy in the Local Group. This is the sharpest visible-light image ever made of the nucleus of an external galaxy.

The Hubble image is being presented today at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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NASA's Hubble Breaks New Ground with Distant Supernova Discovery



NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has detected a distant Type Ia supernova, the farthest stellar explosion that can be used to measure the expansion rate of the universe. The supernova is the remnant of a star that exploded 9 billion years ago. The sighting is the first finding of an ambitious survey that will help astronomers place better constraints on the nature of dark energy: a mysterious repulsive force that is causing the universe to fly apart ever faster. The object, nicknamed SN Primo, belongs to a special class called Type Ia supernovae, which are bright beacons used as distance markers for studying the expansion rate of the universe.

SN Primo is the farthest Type Ia supernova whose distance has been confirmed through spectroscopic observations. The supernova was discovered as part of a three-year Hubble program to survey faraway Type Ia supernovae, enabling searches for this special class of stellar explosion at greater distances than previously possible. The remote supernovae will help astronomers determine whether the exploding stars remain dependable distance markers across vast distances of space in an epoch when the cosmos was only one-third its current age of 13.7 billion years. Called the CANDELS+CLASH Supernova Project, the census uses the sharpness and versatility of Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) to look in regions targeted by two large Hubble programs: the Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey (CANDELS) and the Cluster Lensing and Supernova Survey with Hubble (CLASH).

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Solves Mystery on Source of Supernova in Nearby Galaxy



Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have solved a longstanding mystery on the type of star, or so-called progenitor, that caused a supernova in a nearby galaxy. The finding yields new observational data for pinpointing one of several scenarios that could trigger such outbursts.

Based on previous observations from ground-based telescopes, astronomers knew that a kind of supernova called a Type Ia created a remnant named SNR 0509-67.5, which lies 170,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy. The type of system that leads to this kind of supernova explosion has long been a high importance problem with various proposed solutions but no decisive answer. All these solutions involve a white dwarf star that somehow increases in mass to the highest limit. Astronomers failed to find any companion star near the center of the remnant, and this rules out all but one solution, so the only remaining possibility is that this one Type Ia supernova came from a pair of white dwarfs in close orbit.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Zooms in on a Magnified Galaxy



A team of astronomers aimed Hubble at one of the most striking examples of gravitational lensing, a nearly 90-degree arc of light in the galaxy cluster RCS2 032727-132623. Hubble's view of the distant background galaxy, which lies nearly 10 billion light-years away, is significantly more detailed than could ever be achieved without the help of the gravitational lens.

This observation provides a unique opportunity to study the physical properties of a galaxy vigorously forming stars when the universe was only one-third its present age. The results have been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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NASA's Hubble Spots a Relic from a Shredded Galaxy



Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope may have found evidence for a cluster of young, blue stars encircling HLX-1, one of the first intermediate-mass black holes ever discovered. Astronomers believe the black hole may once have been at the core of a now-disintegrated dwarf galaxy. The discovery of the black hole and the possible star cluster has important implications for understanding the evolution of supermassive black holes and galaxies.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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NASA's Hubble Reveals a New Class of Extrasolar Planet



Observations of the extrasolar planet GJ1214b by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have come up with a new class of planet, a waterworld enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere. It's smaller than Uranus but larger than Earth. A paper reporting these results has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal and is available online.

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Dark Matter Core Defies Explanation in Hubble Image



Astronomers observed what appeared to be a clump of dark matter left behind during a bizarre wreck between massive clusters of galaxies. The dark matter collected into a "dark core" containing far fewer galaxies than would be expected if the dark matter and galaxies hung together. Most of the galaxies apparently have sailed far away from the collision. This result could present a challenge to basic theories of dark matter, which predict that galaxies should be anchored to the invisible substance, even during the shock of a collision.

The initial observations, made in 2007, were so unusual that astronomers shrugged them off as unreal, due to poor data. However, new results obtained in 2008 from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope confirm that dark matter and galaxies parted ways in the gigantic merging galaxy cluster called Abell 520, located 2.4 billion light-years away. Now, astronomers are left with the challenge of trying to explain dark matter's seemingly oddball behavior in this cluster.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Astronomers Using NASA's Hubble Discover Quasars Acting as Gravitational Lenses



Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have found several examples of galaxies containing quasars, which act as gravitational lenses, amplifying and distorting images of galaxies aligned behind them.

Quasars are among the brightest objects in the universe, far outshining the total starlight of their host galaxies. Quasars are powered by supermassive black holes. To find these rare cases of galaxy-quasar combinations acting as lenses, a team of astronomers selected 23,000 quasar spectra in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). They looked for the spectral imprint of galaxies at much greater distances that happened to align with foreground galaxies. Once candidates were identified, Hubble's sharp view was used to look for gravitational arcs and rings (indicated by the arrows in these three Hubble photos) that would be produced by gravitational lensing.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Observes First Confirmed Interstellar Comet



No one knows where it came from. No one knows how long it has been drifting through the empty, cold abyss of interstellar space. But this year an object called comet 2I/Borisov came in from the cold. It was detected falling past our Sun by a Crimean amateur astronomer. This emissary from the black unknown captured the attention of worldwide astronomers who aimed all kinds of telescopes at it to watch the comet sprout a dust tail. The far visitor is only the second known object to enter our solar system coming from elsewhere in the galaxy, based on its speed and trajectory. Like a racetrack photographer trying to capture a speeding derby horse, Hubble took a series of snapshots as the comet streaked along at 110,000 miles per hour. Hubble provided the sharpest image to date of the fleeting comet, revealing a central concentration of dust around an unseen nucleus. The comet was 260 million miles from Earth when Hubble took the photo.

In 2017, the first identified interstellar visitor, an object formally named 'Oumuamua, swung within 24 million miles of the Sun before racing out of the solar system. Unlike comet 2I/Borisov, 'Oumuamua still defies any simple categorization. It did not behave like a comet, and it has a variety of unusual characteristics. Comet 2I/Borisov looks a lot like the traditional comets found inside our solar system, which sublimate ices, and cast off dust as they are warmed by the Sun. The wandering comet provides invaluable clues to the chemical composition, structure, and dust characteristics of planetary building blocks presumably forged in an alien star system.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Faint Glow Within Galaxy Clusters Illuminates Dark Matter



Utilizing the powerful Hubble Frontier Fields observations of galaxy clusters, a study demonstrates that intracluster light — the light of stars orphaned in galaxy cluster mergers — aligns with dark matter, tracing its distribution more accurately than other methods. With broader use, astronomers think the technique could be a first step in exploring the nature of the unobservable, elusive dark matter that makes up the majority of the universe.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Young Planets Orbiting Red Dwarfs May Lack Ingredients for Life



Our Sun is not one of the most abundant types of star in our Milky Way galaxy. That award goes to red dwarfs, stars that are smaller and cooler than our Sun. In fact, red dwarfs presumably contain the bulk of our galaxy's planet population, which could number tens of billions of worlds. Surveys by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope and other observatories have shown that rocky planets are common around these diminutive stars. Some of these rocky worlds are orbiting within the habitable zones of several nearby red dwarfs. The temperate climates on such worlds could allow for oceans to exist on their surface, possibly nurturing life.

That's the good news. The bad news is that many of these rocky planets may not harbor water and organic material, the necessary ingredients for life as we know it. Earth, which formed as a "dry" planet, was seeded over hundreds of millions of years with icy material from comets and asteroids arriving from the outer solar system.

If the same life-nurturing process is needed for planets around red dwarfs, then they may be in trouble. Researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have discovered a rapidly eroding dust-and-gas disk encircling the young, nearby red dwarf star AU Microscopii (AU Mic). The disk is being excavated by fast-moving blobs of material, which are acting like a snowplow by pushing small particles — possibly containing water and other volatiles — out of the system. Astronomers don’t yet know how the blobs were launched. One theory is that powerful mass ejections from the turbulent star expelled them. Such energetic activity is common among young red dwarfs.

If the disk around AU Mic continues to dissipate at the current pace, it will be gone in about 1.5 million years, which is the blink of an eye in cosmic time. Smaller bodies, such as comets and asteroids, could be cleared out of the disk within that short time span. Planets, however, would be too massive to be displaced. Without enrichment from comet and asteroid material, the planets may end up dry, dusty, and lifeless.

(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 Observes First Confirmed Interstellar Comet



No one knows where it came from. No one knows how long it has been drifting through the empty, cold abyss of interstellar space. But this year an object called comet 2I/Borisov came in from the cold. It was detected falling past our Sun by a Crimean amateur astronomer. This emissary from the black unknown captured the attention of worldwide astronomers who aimed all kinds of telescopes at it to watch the comet sprout a dust tail. The far visitor is only the second known object to enter our solar system coming from elsewhere in the galaxy, based on its speed and trajectory. Like a racetrack photographer trying to capture a speeding derby horse, Hubble took a series of snapshots as the comet streaked along at 110,000 miles per hour. Hubble provided the sharpest image to date of the fleeting comet, revealing a central concentration of dust around an unseen nucleus. The comet was 260 million miles from Earth when Hubble took the photo.

In 2017, the first identified interstellar visitor, an object formally named 'Oumuamua, swung within 24 million miles of the Sun before racing out of the solar system. Unlike comet 2I/Borisov, 'Oumuamua still defies any simple categorization. It did not behave like a comet, and it has a variety of unusual characteristics. Comet 2I/Borisov looks a lot like the traditional comets found inside our solar system, which sublimate ices, and cast off dust as they are warmed by the Sun. The wandering comet provides invaluable clues to the chemical composition, structure, and dust characteristics of planetary building blocks presumably forged in an alien star system.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Super Spirals Spin Super Fast



You’ve probably never noticed it, but our solar system is moving along at quite a clip. Stars in the outer reaches of the Milky Way, including our Sun, orbit at an average speed of 130 miles per second. But that’s nothing compared to the most massive spiral galaxies. “Super spirals,” which are larger, brighter, and more massive than the Milky Way, spin even faster than expected for their mass, at speeds up to 350 miles per second.

Their rapid spin is a result of sitting within an extraordinarily massive cloud, or halo, of dark matter – invisible matter detectable only through its gravity. The largest “super spiral” studied here resides in a dark matter halo weighing at least 40 trillion times the mass of our Sun. The existence of super spirals provides more evidence that an alternative theory of gravity known as Modified Newtonian Dynamics, or MOND, is incorrect.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble's Deepest View of the Universe Unveils Bewildering Galaxies across Billions of Years



One peek into a small part of the sky, one giant leap back in time. The Hubble telescope has provided mankind's deepest, most detailed visible view of the universe.

Representing a narrow "keyhole" view stretching to the visible horizon of the universe, the Hubble Deep Field image covers a speck of the sky only about the width of a dime 75 feet away. Though the field is a very small sample of the heavens, it is considered representative of the typical distribution of galaxies in space, because the universe, statistically, looks largely the same in all directions. Gazing into this small field, Hubble uncovered a bewildering assortment of at least 1,500galaxies at various stages of evolution.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Simulcast Links Outer Space to Cyberspace



Expanding its broadcast universe far beyond the Baltimore area and into cyberspace, the popular WJHU radio program "The Marc Steiner Show" (WJHU, FM 88.1) has teamed up with the Space Telescope Science Institute to take listeners on a Hubble Space Telescope tour of the cosmos via the Internet.

For the show's first time, host Marc Steiner's discussion and interview with his guests will be available on the World Wide Web, courtesy of the institute's Office of Public Outreach.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Teams with Google to Bring the Cosmos Down to Earth



Imagine cruising the heavens from your desktop and seeing all the spectacular images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Exploding stars and faraway galaxies are just a mouse click away today through Sky in Google Earth. Sky in Google Earth is produced by Google, the company that hosts the popular Internet search engine, through a partnership with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, the science operations center for Hubble. To access the new feature, users will need to download the newest version of Google Earth, available free of charge.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Comet ISON Appears Intact



A new image of the sunward plunging Comet ISON taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope on October 9, 2013, suggests that the comet is intact despite some predictions that the fragile icy nucleus might disintegrate as the Sun warms it. The comet will pass closest to the Sun on November 28.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Photo Release: Hubble Captures Cosmic Face

heic1919a.jpg
heic1919a.jpg In celebration of Halloween, this new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captures two galaxies of equal size in a collision that appears to resemble a ghostly face. This observation was made on 19 June 2019 in visible light by the telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 
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