Feeds

Hubble back in form with stunning new images

I spy with my massive eye...

The Power of One Infographic

The Hubble Space Telescope is back to snapping pictures of the cosmos, supplying Earth with its precious allowance of desktop wallpapers. And with upgrades and repairs performed last May, the orbiting observatory is doing science even better than before.

NASA shared its jubilation today with a fresh round of images featuring Hubble's new premier instrument, the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).

"This marks a new beginning for Hubble," said Ed Weiler, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "The telescope was given an extreme makeover and now is significantly more powerful than ever, and well-equipped to last into the next decade."

NGC 6302, Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team

The above shot taken by the WFC3 is Planetary Nebula NGC 6302, more popularly known as the Bug Nebula or Butterfly Nebula. Its colorful "wings" are actually cauldrons of heated gas ejected from a dying star that was once about five times the mass of the Sun. The star is now discharging a stream of ultraviolet radiation that makes the cast-off material glow. NGC 6302 lies within out Milky Way galaxy, about 3,800 light-years away in the constellation Scorpious. The ejected material stretches out for more than two light-years, about half the distance from the Sun to the nearest star, Alpha Centauri.

Carina Nebula, Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team

These two images of the Carina Nebula demonstrate how the WFC3's ability to observe visible as well as near-infrared light gives astronomers a more complete view of an object. Infrared light, unlike visible light, can pass through dust, revealing an infant star that is likely responsible for the streamers of gas and dust that can be seen flowing off the top of the structure.

Omega Centauri, Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team

Above is one of the first images taken by the WFC3, showing a small region inside the crowded globular cluster Omega Centauri (population: about 10 million stars). Most of the stars seen here are white-yellow, similar to our Sun. The orange stars are further into their lifecycle, having become larger and cooler. They'll continue to cool and expand in size, eventually becoming red giants seen here as the bright red dots.

Stars that have ejected most of their mass and burned much of their hydrogen appear as a brilliant shade of blue. A good portion of the light emitted by these stars are at ultraviolet wavelengths.

Stephan's Quintet, Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team

Hubble's latest shot of the Stephan's Quintet, the first compact galaxy group ever discovered. The image reveals an assortment of stars in the grouping ranging from young to old. The name Stephan's Quintet is a misnomer, however, as the galaxy in the upper left is believed to actually be seven times closer to Earth than the rest of the group. The four other galaxies have distorted shapes, elongated spiral arms, and gaseous tails as evidence of their close proximity.

Check out the rest of Hubble's latest science snaps (as well as high resolution versions of the above) here. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.