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. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
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
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
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.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.