Space Hubble Telescope News

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Astronomers Release Most Complete Ultraviolet-Light Survey of Nearby Galaxies



Much of the light in the universe comes from stars, and yet, star formation is still a vexing question in astronomy.

To piece together a more complete picture of star birth, astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope to look at star formation among galaxies in our own cosmic back yard. The survey of 50 galaxies in the local universe, called the Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey (LEGUS), is the sharpest, most comprehensive ultraviolet-light look at nearby star-forming galaxies.

The LEGUS survey combines new Hubble observations with archival Hubble images for star-forming spiral and dwarf galaxies, offering a valuable resource for understanding the complexities of star formation and galaxy evolution. Astronomers are releasing the star catalogs for each of the LEGUS galaxies and cluster catalogs for 30 of the galaxies, as well as images of the galaxies themselves. The catalogs provide detailed information on young, massive stars and star clusters, and how their environment affects their development.

The local universe, stretching across the gulf of space between us and the great Virgo cluster of galaxies, is ideal for study because astronomers can amass a big enough sample of galaxies, and yet, the galaxies are close enough to Earth that Hubble can resolve individual stars. The survey will also help astronomers understand galaxies in the distant universe, where rapid star formation took place.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Our Solar System’s First Known Interstellar Object Gets Unexpected Speed Boost



Using observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based observatories, an international team of scientists have confirmed `Oumuamua (oh-MOO-ah-MOO-ah), the first known interstellar object to travel through our solar system, got an unexpected boost in speed and shift in trajectory as it passed through the inner solar system last year.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble and Gaia Team Up to Fuel Cosmic Conundrum



Using the powerful Hubble and Gaia space telescopes, astronomers just took a big step toward finding the answer to the Hubble constant, one of the most important and long-sought numbers in all of cosmology. This number measures the rate at which the universe is expanding since the big bang, 13.8 billion years ago. The constant is named for astronomer Edwin Hubble, who nearly a century ago discovered that the universe was uniformly expanding in all directions. Now, researchers have calculated this number with unprecedented accuracy.

Intriguingly, the new results further intensify the discrepancy between measurements for the expansion rate of the nearby universe, and those of the distant, primeval universe — before stars and galaxies even existed. Because the universe is expanding uniformly, these measurements should be the same. The so-called “tension” implies that there could be new physics underlying the foundations of the universe.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Saturn and Mars Team Up to Make Their Closest Approaches to Earth in 2018



As Saturn and Mars ventured close to Earth, Hubble captured their portraits in June and July 2018, respectively. The telescope photographed the planets near opposition, when the Sun, Earth and an outer planet are lined up, with Earth sitting in between the Sun and the outer planet. Around the time of opposition, a planet is at its closest distance to Earth in its orbit. Hubble viewed Saturn on June 6, when the ringed world was approximately 1.36 billion miles from Earth, as it approached a June 27 opposition. Mars was captured on July 18, at just 36.9 million miles from Earth, near its July 27 opposition. Hubble saw the planets during summertime in Saturn’s northern hemisphere and springtime in Mars’ southern hemisphere. The increase in sunlight in Saturn’s northern hemisphere heated the atmosphere and triggered a large storm that is now disintegrating in Saturn’s northern polar region. On Mars, a spring dust storm erupted in the southern hemisphere and ballooned into a global event enshrouding the entire planet.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Astronomers Uncover New Clues to the Star that Wouldn't Die



It takes more than a massive outburst to destroy the mammoth star Eta Carinae, one of the brightest known stars in the Milky Way galaxy. About 170 years ago, Eta Carinae erupted, unleashing almost as much energy as a standard supernova explosion.

Yet that powerful blast wasn’t enough to obliterate the star, and astronomers have been searching for clues to explain the outburst ever since. Although they cannot travel back to the mid-1800s to witness the actual eruption, they can watch a rebroadcast of part of the event — courtesy of some wayward light from the explosion. Rather than heading straight toward Earth, some of the light from the outburst rebounded or “echoed” off of interstellar dust, and is just now arriving at Earth. This effect is called a light echo.

The surprise is that new measurements of the 19th-century eruption, made by ground-based telescopes, reveal material expanding with record-breaking speeds of up to 20 times faster than astronomers expected. The observed velocities are more like the fastest material ejected by the blast wave in a supernova explosion, rather than the relatively slow and gentle winds expected from massive stars before they die.

Based on the new data, researchers suggest that the 1840s eruption may have been triggered by a prolonged stellar brawl among three rowdy sibling stars, which destroyed one star and left the other two in a binary system. This tussle may have culminated with a violent explosion when Eta Carinae devoured one of its two companions, rocketing more than 10 times the mass of our Sun into space. The ejected mass created gigantic bipolar lobes resembling the dumbbell shape seen in present-day images.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Paints Picture of the Evolving Universe



Astronomers have just assembled one of the most comprehensive portraits yet of the universe’s evolutionary history, based on a broad spectrum of observations by the Hubble Space Telescope and other space and ground-based telescopes. In particular, Hubble’s ultraviolet vision opens a new window on the evolving universe, tracking the birth of stars over the last 11 billion years back to the cosmos’ busiest star-forming period, about 3 billion years after the big bang. This photo encompasses a sea of approximately 15,000 galaxies — 12,000 of which are star-forming — widely distributed in time and space.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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A New Angle on Two Spiral Galaxies for Hubble's 27th Birthday



When the Hubble Space Telescope launched aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990, astronomers could only dream what they might see. Now, 27 years and more than a million observations later, the telescope delivers yet another magnificent view of the universe — this time, a striking pair of spiral galaxies much like our own Milky Way. These island cities of stars, which are approximately 55 million light-years away, give astronomers an idea of what our own galaxy would look like to an outside observer. The edge-on galaxy is called NGC 4302, and the tilted galaxy is NGC 4298. Although the pinwheel galaxies look quite different because they are angled at different positions on the sky, they are actually very similar in terms of their structure and contents.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Astronomer Wins Top Prize for Creating Black Hole Web Site



Explore the world of black holes in an award-winning Web site created by a team led by Roeland van der Marel, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md. The interactive Web site, called "Black Holes: Gravity's Relentless Pull," rescues black holes from the realm of science fiction and puts them back into the domain of science.

The Web site won the top prize for 2005 in the Pirelli INTERNETional Award competition, the first international multimedia contest for the communication of science and technology on the Internet.

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Photo Release: Hubble Watches Interstellar Comet Borisov Speed Past the Sun

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The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has once again captured comet 2I/Borisov streaking through our solar system on its way back into interstellar space. At a breathtaking speed of over 175 000 kilometres per hour, Borisov is one of the fastest comets ever seen. It is only the second interstellar object known to have passed through the Solar System.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Interstellar Comet 2I/Borisov Swings Past the Sun



When astronomers see something in the universe that at first glance seems like one-of-a-kind, it's bound to stir up a lot of excitement and attention. Enter comet 2I/Borisov. This mysterious visitor from the depths of space is the first identified comet to arrive here from another star. We don't know from where or when the comet started heading toward our Sun, but it won't hang around for long. The Sun's gravity is slightly deflecting its trajectory, but can't capture it because of the shape of its orbit and high velocity of about 100,000 miles per hour.

Telescopes around the world have been watching the fleeting visitor. Hubble has provided the sharpest views as the comet skirts by our Sun. Since October the space telescope has been following the comet like a sports photographer following horses speeding around a racetrack. Hubble revealed that the heart of the comet, a loose agglomeration of ices and dust particles, is likely no more than about 3,200 feet across, about the length of nine football fields. Though comet Borisov is the first of its kind, no doubt there are many other comet vagabonds out there, plying the space between stars. Astronomers will eagerly be on the lookout for the next mysterious visitor from far beyond.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Interstellar Comet 2I/Borisov Swings Past the Sun



When astronomers see something in the universe that at first glance seems like one-of-a-kind, it's bound to stir up a lot of excitement and attention. Enter comet 2I/Borisov. This mysterious visitor from the depths of space is the first identified comet to arrive here from another star. We don't know from where or when the comet started heading toward our Sun, but it won't hang around for long. The Sun's gravity is slightly deflecting its trajectory, but can't capture it because of the shape of its orbit and high velocity of about 100,000 miles per hour.

Telescopes around the world have been watching the fleeting visitor. Hubble has provided the sharpest views as the comet skirts by our Sun. Since October the space telescope has been following the comet like a sports photographer following horses speeding around a racetrack. Hubble revealed that the heart of the comet, a loose agglomeration of ices and dust particles, is likely no more than about 3,200 feet across, about the length of nine football fields. Though comet Borisov is the first of its kind, no doubt there are many other comet vagabonds out there, plying the space between stars. Astronomers will eagerly be on the lookout for the next mysterious visitor from far beyond.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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STScI Astronomers Kathryn Flanagan and Colin Norman Elected AAAS Fellows



The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Council has elected Kathryn Flanagan of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and Colin Norman of STScI and Johns Hopkins University, and 441 other AAAS members as Fellows of the AAAS.

Dr. Flanagan is cited by the AAAS for her lead role calibrating grating spectrometers for NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory mission; X-ray observations of astrophysical plasmas; and leadership in the James Webb Space Telescope project.

Dr. Norman is cited by the AAAS for distinguished contributions to an array of subjects in theoretical astrophysics, especially in the areas of the interstellar medium, galaxy dynamics, star formation, and galaxy clusters.

For more information about this announcement, visit the AAAS website.

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'Cotton Candy' Planet Mysteries Unravel in New Hubble Observations



When astronomers look around the solar system, they find that planets can be made out of almost anything. Terrestrial planets like Earth, Mars, and Venus have dense iron cores and rocky mantles. The massive outer planets like Jupiter and Saturn are mostly gaseous and liquid. Astronomers can't peel back their cloud layers to look inside, but their composition is deduced by comparing the planet's mass (as calculated from its orbital motion) to its size. The result is that Jupiter has the density of water, and Saturn has an even lower density (it could float in a huge bathtub). These gas giants are just 1/5th the density of rocky Earth.

Now astronomers have uncovered a completely new class of planet unlike anything found in our solar system. Rather than a "terrestrial" or "gas giant" they might better be called "cotton candy" planets because their density is so low. These planets are so bloated they are nearly the size of Jupiter, but are just 1/100th of its mass. Three of them orbit the Sun-like star Kepler 51, located approximately 2,600 light-years away.

The puffed-up planets might represent a brief transitory phase in planet evolution, which would explain why we don't see anything like them in the solar system. The planets may have formed much farther from their star and migrated inward. Now their low-density hydrogen/helium atmospheres are bleeding off into space. Eventually, much smaller planets might be left behind.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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'Cotton Candy' Planet Mysteries Unravel in New Hubble Observations



When astronomers look around the solar system, they find that planets can be made out of almost anything. Terrestrial planets like Earth, Mars, and Venus have dense iron cores and rocky mantles. The massive outer planets like Jupiter and Saturn are mostly gaseous and liquid. Astronomers can't peel back their cloud layers to look inside, but their composition is deduced by comparing the planet's mass (as calculated from its orbital motion) to its size. The result is that Jupiter has the density of water, and Saturn has an even lower density (it could float in a huge bathtub). These gas giants are just 1/5th the density of rocky Earth.

Now astronomers have uncovered a completely new class of planet unlike anything found in our solar system. Rather than a "terrestrial" or "gas giant" they might better be called "cotton candy" planets because their density is so low. These planets are so bloated they are nearly the size of Jupiter, but are just 1/100th of its mass. Three of them orbit the Sun-like star Kepler 51, located approximately 2,600 light-years away.

The puffed-up planets might represent a brief transitory phase in planet evolution, which would explain why we don't see anything like them in the solar system. The planets may have formed much farther from their star and migrated inward. Now their low-density hydrogen/helium atmospheres are bleeding off into space. Eventually, much smaller planets might be left behind.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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HST WC/PC First Light Image



On the right is part of the first image taken with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope's (HST) Wide Field/Planetary Camera. It is shown with a ground-based picture from a Las Campanas, Chile, observatory of the same region of the sky. The Las Campanas picture was taken with a 100-inch telescope and it is typical of high-quality pictures obtained from the ground. All objects seen are stars within the Milky Way galaxy..

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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The Resolving Power of the Hubble Space Telescope



The image on the right is a portion of the first image returned by the Wide Field/Planetary Camera on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). On the left is a ground based image of the same area of the sky. The object shown in these images is a double star: the pair of stars is well separated in the HST image but blurred together in the ground based image.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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ESA's Faint Object Camera First Images



The European Space Agency's Faint Object Camera aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, has successfully taken its first engineering test pictures of the heavens. This "first light" picture for the Faint Object Camera (FOC) is the culmination of several weeks of intensive check-out and testing of the camera, following the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) last April 24.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Space Telescope Photographs Extragalactical Stellar Nursery



NASA is releasing today a Hubble Space Telescope (HST) photograph of the most remarkable star forming region in the Local Group of Galaxies, 30 Doradus. The photograph shows about 60 stars within a central tight cluster in 30 Doradus. In contrast, earlier photographs with ground-based telescopes, supplemented by mathematical analysis, have shown only 27 stars in the tight cluster, which is called R136. Before the ground-based studies showed that so many stars are present in R136, some astronomers thought it was a single, supermassive object, with as much as 3,000 times the mass of the Sun. This recent HST photograph shows even more individual stars within R136. Furthermore, its high resolution suggests that some of the stars have more than 100 times the mass of the Sun. That would make them among the most massive stars ever identified.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Space Telescope Resolves Gaseous Ring Around Supernova



The Hubble Space Telescope has resolved, to an unprecedented detail of 0.1 arcsecond, a mysterious elliptical ring of material around the remnants of Supernova 1987A.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Space Telescope Peers Into Core of Distant Galaxy



NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has provided a remarkably new detailed view of the core of a galaxy which lies 40 million light-years away, more than half way to the great Virgo Cluster of galaxies. These results promise that astronomers will be able to use the Hubble Space Telescope to probe the mysterious centers of galaxies, in a search for massive black holes.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 
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