Space Hubble Telescope News

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New Hubble Image Reveals Details in the Heart of the Trifid Nebula

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Three huge intersecting dark lanes of interstellar dust make the Trifid Nebula one of the most recognizable and striking star birth regions in the night sky. The dust, silhouetted against glowing gas and illuminated by starlight, cradles the bright stars at the heart of the Trifid Nebula. This nebula, also known as Messier 20 and NGC 6514, lies within our own Milky Way Galaxy about 9,000 light-years (2,700 parsecs) from Earth, in the constellation Sagittarius. This new image from the Hubble Space Telescope offers a close-up view of the center of the Trifid Nebula, near the intersection of the dust bands, where a group of recently formed, massive, bright stars is easily visible.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Studies Generations of Star Formation in Neighboring Galaxy

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NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captures the iridescent tapestry of star birth in a neighboring galaxy in this panoramic view of glowing gas, dark dust clouds, and young, hot stars. The star-forming region, catalogued as N11B, lies in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), located only 160,000 light-years from Earth. With its high resolution, the Hubble Space Telescope is able to view details of star formation in the LMC as easily as ground-based telescopes are able to observe stellar formation within our own Milky Way galaxy.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Images Majestic Cousin of the Milky Way

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Our Sun and solar system are embedded in a broad pancake of stars deep within the disk of the Milky Way galaxy. Even from a distance, it is impossible to see our galaxy's large-scale features other than the disk. The next best thing is to look farther out into the universe at galaxies that are similar in shape and structure to our home galaxy. Other spiral galaxies like NGC 3949, pictured in the Hubble image, fit the bill.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Peers Inside a Celestial Geode

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In this unusual image, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captures a rare view of the celestial equivalent of a geode -- a gas cavity carved by the stellar wind and intense ultraviolet radiation from a hot young star. Real geodes are baseball-sized, hollow rocks that start out as bubbles in volcanic or sedimentary rock. Only when these inconspicuous round rocks are split in half by a geologist, do we get a chance to appreciate the inside of the rock cavity that is lined with crystals. In the case of Hubble's 35 light-year diameter "celestial geode" the transparency of its bubble-like cavity of interstellar gas and dust reveals the treasures of its interior.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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A Bright Supernova in the Nearby Galaxy NGC 2403

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The explosion of a massive star blazes with the light of 200 million Suns in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image. The arrow at top right points to the stellar blast, called a supernova. The supernova is so bright in this image that it easily could be mistaken for a foreground star in our Milky Way Galaxy. And yet, this supernova, called SN 2004dj, resides far beyond our galaxy. Its home is in the outskirts of NGC 2403, a galaxy located 11 million light-years from Earth. Although the supernova is far from Earth, it is the closest stellar explosion discovered in more than a decade.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Light Continues to Echo Three Years After Stellar Outburst

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The Hubble Space Telescope's latest image of the star V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon) reveals dramatic changes in the illumination of surrounding dusty cloud structures. The effect, called a light echo, has been unveiling never-before-seen dust patterns ever since the star suddenly brightened for several weeks in early 2002.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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The Impending Destruction of NGC 1427A

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What happens when a galaxy falls in with the wrong crowd? The irregular galaxy NGC 1427A is a spectacular example of the resulting stellar rumble. Under the gravitational grasp of a large gang of galaxies, called the Fornax cluster, the small bluish galaxy is plunging headlong into the group at 600 kilometers per second or nearly 400 miles per second.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Spies Cosmic Dust Bunnies

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Like dust bunnies that lurk in corners and under beds, surprisingly complex loops and blobs of cosmic dust lie hidden in the giant elliptical galaxy NGC 1316. This image made from data obtained with the NASA Hubble Space Telescope reveals the dust lanes and star clusters of this giant galaxy that give evidence that it was formed from a past merger of two gas-rich galaxies.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Celebrates 15th Anniversary with Spectacular New Images

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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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Hubble Reveals the Evolving Core of a Dense Star Cluster

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Astronomers today presented pictures taken with the Hubble Space Telescope of the heart of M15, a dense cluster of stars within our own Galaxy. The pictures show for the first time that M15 is in the process of recovering from a deep implosion of its core regions, caused by a massive gravitational instability. Many other star clusters may have experienced a similar collapse, in which their central stars crowd into a compact aggregate, causing a sharp rise in central density. This process may also happen in the dense centers of galaxies, where it may lead to the formation of massive black holes. The analysis of the Hubble images was presented by Dr. Tod R. Lauer of the National Optical Astronomy Observatories, Tucson, Arizona, Dr. Jon A. Holtzman of Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona, Dr. Sandra M. Faber of Lick Observatory, Santa Cruz, California, and fellow members of the Hubble Wide Field/Planetary Camera imaging team, at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Fellowship Program Selects 1992's Talented Young Astronomers for Studying Hubble Space Telescope Discoveries

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The Space Telescope Science Institute (ST ScI) has selected 13 new scientists for the Hubble Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. The awardees were selected from a pool of 115 highly-qualified candidates from 28 countries.

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STScI Appoints a New Mission Head for the James Webb Space Telescope

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The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) has appointed Dr. Kathryn Flanagan as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Mission Head.

Dr. Flanagan will be responsible for the development and operations of the JWST Science and Operations Center at the STScI. The largest space observatory ever developed, the JWST is scheduled for launch in June 2013.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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

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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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Small Companion to Brown Dwarf Challenges Simple Definition

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As our telescopes grow more powerful, astronomers are uncovering objects that defy conventional wisdom. This latest example is the discovery of a planet-like object circling a brown dwarf. It's the right size for a planet, estimated to be 5-10 times the mass of Jupiter. There has been a lot of discussion in the context of the Pluto debate over how small an object can be and still be called a planet. This new observation addresses the question at the other end of the size spectrum: How small can an object be and still be a brown dwarf rather than a planet? This new companion is within the range of masses observed for planets around stars – less than 15 Jupiter masses. But should it be called a planet? The answer is strongly connected to the mechanism by which the companion most likely formed. What's even more puzzling is that the object formed in just 1 million years, a very short time to make a planet according to conventional theory.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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A Cosmic Holiday Ornament, Hubble-Style

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'Tis the season for holiday decorating and tree-trimming. Not to be left out, astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have photographed a festive-looking nearby planetary nebula called NGC 5189. The intricate structure of this bright gaseous nebula resembles a glass-blown holiday ornament with a glowing ribbon entwined.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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NASA Telescopes Find Galaxy Cluster with Vibrant Heart

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Astronomers have discovered a rare beast of a galaxy cluster whose heart is bursting with new stars. The unexpected find, made with the help of NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes, suggests that behemoth galaxies at the cores of these massive clusters can grow significantly by feeding on gas stolen from other galaxies. The cluster in the new study, referred to by astronomers as SpARCS1049+56, has at least 27 galaxy members, and a combined mass equal to nearly 400 trillion suns. It is located 9.8 billion light-years away in the Ursa Major constellation. The object was initially discovered using Spitzer and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, and confirmed using the W. M. Keck Observatory. Hubble helped confirm the source of the fuel for the new stars.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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NASA Space Telescopes Provide a 3D Journey Through the Orion Nebula

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By combining the visible and infrared capabilities of the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, astronomers and visualization specialists from NASA's Universe of Learning program have created a spectacular, three-dimensional, fly-through movie of the magnificent Orion nebula, a nearby stellar nursery. Using actual scientific data along with Hollywood techniques, a team at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Caltech/IPAC in Pasadena, California, has produced the best and most detailed multi-wavelength visualization yet of the Orion nebula. The three-minute movie allows viewers to glide through the picturesque star-forming region and experience the universe in an exciting new way.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Probes Atmospheres of Exoplanets in TRAPPIST-1 Habitable Zone

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Only 40 light-years away — a stone’s throw on the scale of our galaxy — several Earth-sized planets orbit the red dwarf star TRAPPIST-1. Four of the planets lie in the star’s habitable zone, a region at a distance from the star where liquid water, the key to life as we know it, could exist on the planets’ surfaces.

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have conducted the first spectroscopic survey of these worlds. Hubble reveals that at least three of the exoplanets do not seem to contain puffy, hydrogen-rich atmospheres similar to gaseous planets such as Neptune. This means the atmospheres may be more shallow and rich in heavier gases like those found in Earth’s atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and oxygen.

Astronomers plan to use NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2019, to probe deeper into the planetary atmospheres to search for the presence of such elements that could offer hints of whether these far-flung worlds are habitable.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Uncovers the Farthest Star Ever Seen

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Through a quirk of nature called “gravitational lensing,” a natural lens in space amplified a very distant star’s light. Astronomers using Hubble took advantage of this phenomenon to pinpoint the faraway star and set a new distance record for the farthest individual star ever seen. They also used the distant star to test one theory of dark matter, and to probe the make-up of a galaxy cluster. The team dubbed the star “Icarus,” after the Greek mythological character who flew too near the Sun on wings of feathers and wax that melted. Its official name is MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 
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