Space Hubble Telescope News

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Galaxy Blazes with New Stars Born from Close Encounter

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One doesn't need a Ph.D. in astrophysics to recognize there is something odd-looking about this otherwise beautiful galaxy, NCG 4485. Like the Batman character Two-Face, one side looks normal, but the other side looks contorted with a firestorm of star formation going on. Why the colorful asymmetry in an island star city many thousands of light-years across? The clue is off the edge of the photo. It's another galaxy, NGC 4490, that swept by NGC 4485 millions of years ago. The gravitational taffy pull between the two galaxies compressed interstellar gas to trigger a flurry of new star birth as seen in the abundance of young blue stars and pinkish nebulas. So, out of a near-collision between two galaxies comes stellar renewal and birth. It's a trademark of our compulsive universe where even things as big as galaxies can go bump in the night.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Explores the Formation and Evolution of Star Clusters in the Large Magellanic Cloud

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Like batches of cookies, stars are born together in groups. These star clusters, containing as many as 1 million members, evolve over time largely through a gravitational pinball where more massive stars are segregated from lower mass stars. Heavy stars tend to progressively sink toward the central region of the star cluster, while low-mass stars can escape from the system.

For the first time, the Hubble Space Telescope has been used to measure the effects of this dynamical aging on star clusters. They are all located 160,000 light-years from Earth in a satellite galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). The diminutive galaxy is an ideal target because it hosts a selection of easily observed star clusters covering a wide range of ages.

Francesco Ferraro of the University of Bologna in Italy and his team used Hubble to observe five aging LMC star clusters — all born at about the same time but with different sizes — and succeeded in ranking them in terms of the level of dynamical evolution, which affects their shape.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Uses Earth as a Proxy for Identifying Oxygen on Potentially Habitable Planets Around Other Stars

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Astronauts who have gazed at Earth from space have been awestruck at our blue marble planet's majesty and diversity. Mike Massimino, who helped service the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit, said, "I think of our planet as a paradise. We are very lucky to be here."

What's mind-blowing is that astronomers estimate there could be as many as 1 billion other planets like Earth in our Milky Way galaxy alone. Just imagine, one billion – not million – other "paradise planets." But it's paradise lost if nothing is living there to marvel at sunsets in azure blue skies. And, as 19th century philosopher Thomas Carlyle mused, "…what a waste of space."

It is sobering that our home planet is the only known place in the universe where life as we know it exists and thrives. And so, we gaze outward to the stars, imprisoned by space and time, into a cosmic loneliness. That's why scientists are dedicated to building ever-larger telescopes to search for potentially habitable planets. But how will they know life is present without traveling there and watching creatures walk, fly, or slither around?

One way is by probing a planet's atmosphere. An atmosphere with the right mix of chemical elements is necessary to nurture and sustain life. Earth's atmosphere includes oxygen, nitrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide that have helped support life for billions of years. Earth's abundance of oxygen, especially, is a clue that our atmosphere's oxygen content is being replenished by biological processes.

Astronomers have been using a variety of ground- and space-based telescopes to analyze how the ingredients of Earth's atmosphere look from space, using our planet as a proxy for studying extrasolar planets' atmospheres. They hope to eventually compare Earth's atmospheric composition with those of other worlds to note similarities and differences. Taking advantage of a total lunar eclipse, astronomers using the Hubble telescope have detected ozone in Earth's atmosphere by looking at Earthlight reflected off the Moon. Our Moon came in handy as a giant mirror in space.

Ozone is a key ingredient in our planet's atmosphere. It forms naturally when oxygen is exposed to strong concentrations of ultraviolet light, which triggers chemical reactions. Ozone is Earth's security blanket, protecting life from deadly ultraviolet rays.

This is the first time a total lunar eclipse was captured at ultraviolet wavelengths and from a space telescope. This method simulates how astronomers will search for circumstantial evidence of life beyond Earth by looking for potential biosignatures on extrasolar planets.

Using a space telescope for eclipse observations reproduces the conditions under which future telescopes would measure atmospheres of extrasolar planets that pass in front of their stars. These atmospheres may contain chemical signatures very similar to Earth, and pique our curiosity to wonder if we are not alone in the universe.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Science Release: Hubble Makes the First Observation of a Total Lunar Eclipse By a Space Telescope

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Taking advantage of a total lunar eclipse, astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have detected ozone in Earth’s atmosphere. This method serves as a proxy for how they will observe Earth-like planets around other stars in the search for life. This is the first time a total lunar eclipse was captured from a space telescope and the first time such an eclipse has been studied in ultraviolet wavelengths.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Uses Earth as a Proxy for Identifying Oxygen on Potentially Habitable Planets Around Other Stars

http://imgsrc.hubblesite.org/hvi/uploads/story/display_image/1356/low_STScI-H-p2030a-k-1340x520.png

Astronauts who have gazed at Earth from space have been awestruck at our blue marble planet's majesty and diversity. Mike Massimino, who helped service the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit, said, "I think of our planet as a paradise. We are very lucky to be here."

What's mind-blowing is that astronomers estimate there could be as many as 1 billion other planets like Earth in our Milky Way galaxy alone. Just imagine, one billion – not million – other "paradise planets." But it's paradise lost if nothing is living there to marvel at sunsets in azure blue skies. And, as 19th century philosopher Thomas Carlyle mused, "…what a waste of space."

It is sobering that our home planet is the only known place in the universe where life as we know it exists and thrives. And so, we gaze outward to the stars, imprisoned by space and time, into a cosmic loneliness. That's why scientists are dedicated to building ever-larger telescopes to search for potentially habitable planets. But how will they know life is present without traveling there and watching creatures walk, fly, or slither around?

One way is by probing a planet's atmosphere. An atmosphere with the right mix of chemical elements is necessary to nurture and sustain life. Earth's atmosphere includes oxygen, nitrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide that have helped support life for billions of years. Earth's abundance of oxygen, especially, is a clue that our atmosphere's oxygen content is being replenished by biological processes.

Astronomers have been using a variety of ground- and space-based telescopes to analyze how the ingredients of Earth's atmosphere look from space, using our planet as a proxy for studying extrasolar planets' atmospheres. They hope to eventually compare Earth's atmospheric composition with those of other worlds to note similarities and differences. Taking advantage of a total lunar eclipse, astronomers using the Hubble telescope have detected ozone in Earth's atmosphere by looking at Earthlight reflected off the Moon. Our Moon came in handy as a giant mirror in space.

Ozone is a key ingredient in our planet's atmosphere. It forms naturally when oxygen is exposed to strong concentrations of ultraviolet light, which triggers chemical reactions. Ozone is Earth's security blanket, protecting life from deadly ultraviolet rays.

This is the first time a total lunar eclipse was captured at ultraviolet wavelengths and from a space telescope. This method simulates how astronomers will search for circumstantial evidence of life beyond Earth by looking for potential biosignatures on extrasolar planets.

Using a space telescope for eclipse observations reproduces the conditions under which future telescopes would measure atmospheres of extrasolar planets that pass in front of their stars. These atmospheres may contain chemical signatures very similar to Earth, and pique our curiosity to wonder if we are not alone in the universe.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Uses Earth as a Proxy for Identifying Oxygen on Potentially Habitable Planets Around Other Stars

http://imgsrc.hubblesite.org/hvi/uploads/story/display_image/1356/low_STScI-H-p2030a-k-1340x520.png

Astronauts who have gazed at Earth from space have been awestruck at our blue marble planet's majesty and diversity. Mike Massimino, who helped service the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit, said, "I think of our planet as a paradise. We are very lucky to be here."

What's mind-blowing is that astronomers estimate there could be as many as 1 billion other planets like Earth in our Milky Way galaxy alone. Just imagine, one billion – not million – other "paradise planets." But it's paradise lost if nothing is living there to marvel at sunsets in azure blue skies. And, as 19th century philosopher Thomas Carlyle mused, "…what a waste of space."

It is sobering that our home planet is the only known place in the universe where life as we know it exists and thrives. And so, we gaze outward to the stars, imprisoned by space and time, into a cosmic loneliness. That's why scientists are dedicated to building ever-larger telescopes to search for potentially habitable planets. But how will they know life is present without traveling there and watching creatures walk, fly, or slither around?

One way is by probing a planet's atmosphere. An atmosphere with the right mix of chemical elements is necessary to nurture and sustain life. Earth's atmosphere includes oxygen, nitrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide that have helped support life for billions of years. Earth's abundance of oxygen, especially, is a clue that our atmosphere's oxygen content is being replenished by biological processes.

Astronomers have been using a variety of ground- and space-based telescopes to analyze how the ingredients of Earth's atmosphere look from space, using our planet as a proxy for studying extrasolar planets' atmospheres. They hope to eventually compare Earth's atmospheric composition with those of other worlds to note similarities and differences. Taking advantage of a total lunar eclipse, astronomers using the Hubble telescope have detected ozone in Earth's atmosphere by looking at Earthlight reflected off the Moon. Our Moon came in handy as a giant mirror in space.

Ozone is a key ingredient in our planet's atmosphere. It forms naturally when oxygen is exposed to strong concentrations of ultraviolet light, which triggers chemical reactions. Ozone is Earth's security blanket, protecting life from deadly ultraviolet rays.

This is the first time a total lunar eclipse was captured at ultraviolet wavelengths and from a space telescope. This method simulates how astronomers will search for circumstantial evidence of life beyond Earth by looking for potential biosignatures on extrasolar planets.

Using a space telescope for eclipse observations reproduces the conditions under which future telescopes would measure atmospheres of extrasolar planets that pass in front of their stars. These atmospheres may contain chemical signatures very similar to Earth, and pique our curiosity to wonder if we are not alone in the universe.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Amateur and Professional Astronomers Team Up to Create a Cosmological Masterpiece

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Working with astronomical image processors at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., renowned astrophotographer Robert Gendler has taken science data from the Hubble Space Telescope archive and combined it with his own ground-based observations to assemble a photo illustration of the magnificent spiral galaxy M106.

Gendler retrieved archival Hubble images of M106 to assemble a mosaic of the center of the galaxy. He then used his own and fellow astrophotographer Jay GaBany's observations of M106 to combine with the Hubble data in areas where there was less coverage, and finally, to fill in the holes and gaps where no Hubble data existed.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Uses Earth as a Proxy for Identifying Oxygen on Potentially Habitable Planets Around Other Stars

http://imgsrc.hubblesite.org/hvi/uploads/story/display_image/1356/low_STScI-H-p2030a-k-1340x520.png

Astronauts who have gazed at Earth from space have been awestruck at our blue marble planet's majesty and diversity. Mike Massimino, who helped service the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit, said, "I think of our planet as a paradise. We are very lucky to be here."

What's mind-blowing is that astronomers estimate there could be as many as 1 billion other planets like Earth in our Milky Way galaxy alone. Just imagine, one billion – not million – other "paradise planets." But it's paradise lost if nothing is living there to marvel at sunsets in azure blue skies. And, as 19th century philosopher Thomas Carlyle mused, "…what a waste of space."

It is sobering that our home planet is the only known place in the universe where life as we know it exists and thrives. And so, we gaze outward to the stars, imprisoned by space and time, into a cosmic loneliness. That's why scientists are dedicated to building ever-larger telescopes to search for potentially habitable planets. But how will they know life is present without traveling there and watching creatures walk, fly, or slither around?

One way is by probing a planet's atmosphere. An atmosphere with the right mix of chemical elements is necessary to nurture and sustain life. Earth's atmosphere includes oxygen, nitrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide that have helped support life for billions of years. Earth's abundance of oxygen, especially, is a clue that our atmosphere's oxygen content is being replenished by biological processes.

Astronomers have been using a variety of ground- and space-based telescopes to analyze how the ingredients of Earth's atmosphere look from space, using our planet as a proxy for studying extrasolar planets' atmospheres. They hope to eventually compare Earth's atmospheric composition with those of other worlds to note similarities and differences. Taking advantage of a total lunar eclipse, astronomers using the Hubble telescope have detected ozone in Earth's atmosphere by looking at Earthlight reflected off the Moon. Our Moon came in handy as a giant mirror in space.

Ozone is a key ingredient in our planet's atmosphere. It forms naturally when oxygen is exposed to strong concentrations of ultraviolet light, which triggers chemical reactions. Ozone is Earth's security blanket, protecting life from deadly ultraviolet rays.

This is the first time a total lunar eclipse was captured at ultraviolet wavelengths and from a space telescope. This method simulates how astronomers will search for circumstantial evidence of life beyond Earth by looking for potential biosignatures on extrasolar planets.

Using a space telescope for eclipse observations reproduces the conditions under which future telescopes would measure atmospheres of extrasolar planets that pass in front of their stars. These atmospheres may contain chemical signatures very similar to Earth, and pique our curiosity to wonder if we are not alone in the universe.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Space Telescope Celebrates 25 Years of Unveiling the Universe

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NASA and ESA are celebrating the Hubble Space Telescope's silver anniversary of 25 years in space by unveiling some of nature's own fireworks – a giant cluster of about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2. The cluster resides inside a vibrant stellar breeding ground known as Gum 29, located 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina. The comparatively young, 2-million-year-old star cluster contains some of our galaxy's hottest, brightest, and most massive stars. The largest stars are unleashing a torrent of ultraviolet light and hurricane-force winds that etch away the enveloping hydrogen gas cloud. This creates a fantasy celestial landscape of pillars, ridges, and valleys.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Beyond the Brim, Sombrero Galaxy's Halo Suggests a Turbulent Past

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Like a desperado in the Wild West, the broad "brim" of the Sombrero galaxy's disk may conceal a turbulent past. The Sombrero (M104) has never been a galaxy to fit the mold. It has an intriguing mix of shapes found in disk-shaped spiral galaxies, as well as football-shaped elliptical galaxies. The story of its structure becomes stranger with new evidence from the Hubble Space Telescope indicating the Sombrero is the result of major galaxy mergers, though its smooth disk shows no signs of recent disruption.

The galaxy's faint halo offers forensic clues. It's littered with innumerable stars that are rich in heavier elements (called metals), because they are later-generation stars. Such stars are usually only found in a galaxy's disk. They must have been tossed into the halo through mergers with mature, metal-rich galaxies in the distant past. The iconic galaxy now looks a bit more settled in its later years. It is now so isolated, there is nothing else around to feed on. This finding offers a new twist on how galaxies assemble themselves in our compulsive universe.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Founding Hubble Institute Director to Receive National Medal of Science

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Dr. Riccardo Giacconi, founding director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), will receive the 2003 National Medal of Science -- the United States' top scientific recognition -- for his work in X-ray astronomy and his outstanding leadership in the development of the STScI. The White House announced the list of recipients on February 14. Giacconi and the others will receive their medals in a White House ceremony on Monday, March 14.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Finds that Betelgeuse's Mysterious Dimming Is Due to a Traumatic Outburst

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The aging, bright-red supergiant star Betelgeuse has captivated sky watchers since antiquity. The ancient astronomer Ptolemy was one of the first to note the monster star's red color. It is one of the brightest stars in the night sky and appears even more luminous because it is so close to Earth, only 725 light-years away.

But the star also periodically changes in brightness, which was first noted in the 1830s by British astronomer John Herschel. Astronomers now know that the star expands and contracts, brightening and dimming, on a 420-day cycle.

However, in October 2019, the star dimmed dramatically and continued to become even fainter. By mid-February 2020, the monster star had lost more than two-thirds of its brilliance.

This sudden dimming has mystified astronomers, who scrambled to develop several theories for the abrupt change. Ultraviolet observations by the Hubble Space Telescope suggest that the unexpected dimming was probably caused by an immense amount of superhot material ejected into space. The material cooled and formed a dust cloud that blocked the starlight coming from about a quarter of Betelgeuse's surface.

Hubble captured signs of dense, heated material moving through the star's atmosphere in September, October, and November 2019. Then, in December, several ground-based telescopes observed the star decreasing in brightness in its southern hemisphere.

The giant star is destined to end its life in a supernova blast. Some astronomers think the sudden dimming may be a pre-supernova event. Betelgeuse resides in Orion, one of the most recognizable constellations in the sky. The mammoth star marks the right shoulder of the hunter.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Science Release: Hubble Helps Uncover the Mystery of the Dimming of Betelgeuse

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New observations by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope suggest that the unexpected dimming of the supergiant star Betelgeuse was most likely caused by an immense amount of hot material ejected into space, forming a dust cloud that blocked starlight coming from Betelgeuse’s surface.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Snaps Close-Up of Celebrity Comet NEOWISE

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Whether it’s a surprise asteroid, colorful aurora or a heart-stopping eclipse, the landscape of the night sky is constantly changing. When a new visitor appears in view, it’s guaranteed to grab the attention of professional astronomers and casual sky gazers alike. Well, consider the Hubble Space Telescope the paparazzi of the sky, as it’s managed to snap the closest images yet of the sky’s latest visitor to make headlines, comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE), after it passed by the Sun.

Comet NEOWISE is considered the brightest comet visible from the Northern Hemisphere since 1997’s Hale-Bopp. It’s estimated to be traveling at a whopping 40 miles per second, or 144,000 miles per hour. The comet’s closest approach to the Sun took place on July 3 and it’s now heading back to the outer parts of the solar system, not to pass through again for another 7,000 years or so.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Photo Release: Hubble Snaps Close-Up of Comet NEOWISE

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The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured the closest images yet of the sky’s latest visitor to make the headlines, comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE, after it passed by the Sun. The new images of the comet were taken on 8 August and feature the visitor’s coma, the fine shell that surrounds its nucleus, and its dusty output.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Maps a Giant Halo Around the Andromeda Galaxy

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Looks can be deceiving. The Andromeda spiral, the nearest major galaxy to our Milky Way, can be seen as a small, fuzzy, spindle-shaped object in the autumn skies of the Northern Hemisphere. What can’t be seen because it is too faint is a vast halo of hot, rarified gas that would stretch out from the Andromeda galaxy to the width of three Big Dippers. Now, in the most comprehensive study of the monstrous halo, Hubble astronomers have mapped this tenuous plasma, finding that it has a layered structure, with two distinct, nested shells of gas. They also found that it extends 1.3 million light-years from Andromeda—about halfway to our Milky Way—and as far as 2 million light-years in some directions. This reservoir of gas is full of clues to Andromeda’s past and future, and may offer insight into the evolution of our own Milky Way galaxy.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Maps a Giant Halo Around the Andromeda Galaxy

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Looks can be deceiving. The Andromeda spiral, the nearest major galaxy to our Milky Way, can be seen as a small, fuzzy, spindle-shaped object in the autumn skies of the Northern Hemisphere. What can’t be seen because it is too faint is a vast halo of hot, rarified gas that would stretch out from the Andromeda galaxy to the width of three Big Dippers. Now, in the most comprehensive study of the monstrous halo, Hubble astronomers have mapped this tenuous plasma, finding that it has a layered structure, with two distinct, nested shells of gas. They also found that it extends 1.3 million light-years from Andromeda—about halfway to our Milky Way—and as far as 2 million light-years in some directions. This reservoir of gas is full of clues to Andromeda’s past and future, and may offer insight into the evolution of our own Milky Way galaxy.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Maps a Giant Halo Around the Andromeda Galaxy

http://imgsrc.hubblesite.org/hvi/uploads/story/display_image/1370/low_STScI-H-p2046a-k-1340x520.png

Looks can be deceiving. The Andromeda spiral, the nearest major galaxy to our Milky Way, can be seen as a small, fuzzy, spindle-shaped object in the autumn skies of the Northern Hemisphere. What can’t be seen because it is too faint is a vast halo of hot, rarified gas that would stretch out from the Andromeda galaxy to the width of three Big Dippers. Now, in the most comprehensive study of the monstrous halo, Hubble astronomers have mapped this tenuous plasma, finding that it has a layered structure, with two distinct, nested shells of gas. They also found that it extends 1.3 million light-years from Andromeda—about halfway to our Milky Way—and as far as 2 million light-years in some directions. This reservoir of gas is full of clues to Andromeda’s past and future, and may offer insight into the evolution of our own Milky Way galaxy.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Reveals Surface of Pluto for First Time

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For the first time since Pluto's discovery 66 years ago, astronomers have at last directly seen details on the surface of the solar system's farthest known planet.

The Hubble telescope's snapshots of nearly the entire surface of Pluto, taken as the planet rotated through a 6.4-day period, show that Pluto is a complex object, with more large-scale contrast than any planet, except Earth. Topographic features such as basins, or fresh impact craters may cause some of the variations across Pluto's surface.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Far-Flung Galaxy Clusters May Reveal Fate of Universe

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A survey of galaxy clusters by the Hubble telescope has found what could be some of the most distant clusters ever seen. If ground-based telescopes confirm the distances and masses of the clusters, the survey may hold clues to how galaxies quickly formed into massive, large-scale structures after the Big Bang, which could provide answers for the universe's eventual fate.

According to theoretical models, if the clusters turn out to be massive and very distant, it could imply that the cosmos does not contain enough matter for gravity to stop the expansion of the universe. These models predict that such a low-density universe would have built most of its galaxy clusters long ago. These images represent three of the faraway clusters of galaxies. These galaxies were selected from a catalog of 92 new clusters uncovered during a six-year Hubble observing program known as the Medium Deep Survey.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 
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