Feeds

Hubble back in form with stunning new images

I spy with my massive eye...

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.