Space, the Galaxy and Beyond 2018 Calendar
Images from the Hubble Space Telescope have revolutionized how
we see space and understand it. Traveling at 4.72 miles per second
in an orbit 300 miles above the earth, Hubble is able to look deep
into space and send remarkable images to Earth that tell scientists
about the birth of stars and the formation of galaxies. Space, The
Galaxy and Beyond lets you look into those amazing images.
These dramatic gas plumes extend from the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula, which is found in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) galaxy that orbits the Milky Way. The LMC is 150,000 light-years distant from Earth and appears in our sky only as a blurry mass.
NGC 4388 is an elliptical galaxy 60 million light-years away from Earth. The galaxy contains two symmetric spiral arms with glowing lanes of dust between them. Bright blue speckles indicate that new stars are forming inside 4388, which is one of some 1,300 galaxies in the constellation of Virgo.
Clouds of interstellar gas and dust rise from the stellar nursery in the Carina Nebula that is part of the Carina constellation 7,500 light-years from Earth. New stars exhaust jets at speeds of several hundred miles per second into the surrounding nebula creating small, glowing patches of nebulosity.
NGC 248 is a glowing nebula located in the Small Magellanic Cloud galaxy, a satellite of the Milky Way about 200,000 light-years from Earth.
Photograph: ESA/Hubble, NASA, STScl, K. Sandstrom (UC San Diego), and the SMIDGE team
A different sort of galaxy, NGC 2841 is called a flocculent spiral. It features short limbs, rather than arms that are long and clearly defined. Despite its formation, the galaxy is an active stellar nursery 65 million light-years from Earth.
NGC 7635 is an emission nebula formed of ionized gasses that emit light. NGC 7635 is part of the Milky Way and only about 8,000 light-years away from Earth.
Seen from Earth, 800 million light-years distant, these spiral galaxies appear as one. The perspective from Hubble shows,
Illuminated swirling gasses form a halo around the star V838 Monocerotis 20,000 light-years from Earth on the edge of the Milky Way. The illumination comes from a pulse of light emitted by the red supergiant star at the center of the picture.
This glowing sea of gasses is part of Messier 17, better known as the Omega or Swan Nebula about 5,500 light-years from Earth. Ultraviolet radiation emitted by massive, young stars in the nebula heats hydrogen gas clouds causing them to glow and stream away. Chemical compounds effulge in different colors: red represents sulphur, green is hydrogen, and blue is oxygen.
Photograph: ESA/Hubble, NASA, the Hubble Heritage Team, J. Hester, Arizona State University.
Birthing new stars at a prodigious rate, Westerlund 2 is a nebula in the Milky Way about 20,000 light-years from Earth. Using near-infrared vision, the Hubble Telescope allows astronomers to identify forming stars which are seen here as red dots in this cosmic landscape.
The secret in the glowing center of spiral galaxy NGC 4845 is a vast black hole with a mass estimated to measure several hundreds of thousands of times heavier than our sun. The gravitational pull of this black hole causes the objects near the center of 4845 to orbit much more quickly than they would normally. In 2013, astronomers detected a gigantic flare from the black hole as it consumed a star or large planet.
Not so far from home, the Hubble Telescope also captures images of planets in our own solar system. This picture of Saturn offers a brilliant image of the planet and its famous rings. Although the Hubble Telescope orbits our planet at an altitude of 340 miles, the distance from Earth to Saturn is still 746 million miles.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope was launched April 24, 1990, on the space shuttle Discovery from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
- Hubble has made more than 1.3 million observations since its mission began in 1990.
- Astronomers using Hubble data have published more than 14,000 scientific papers, making it one of the most productive scientific instruments ever built.
- Hubble does not travel to stars, planets or galaxies. It takes pictures of them as it whirls around Earth at about 17,000 mph.
- Hubble has traveled more than 3 billion miles along a circular low Earth orbit currently about 340 miles in altitude.
- Hubble has no thrusters. To change pointing angles, it uses Newton’s third law by spinning its wheels in the opposite direction. It turns at about the speed of a minute hand on a clock, taking 15 minutes to turn 90 degrees.
- Hubble has the pointing accuracy of .007 arc seconds, which is like being able to shine a laser beam focused on Franklin D. Roosevelt's head on a dime roughly 200 miles away.
- Outside the haze of our atmosphere, Hubble can see astronomical objects with an angular size of 0.05 arc seconds, which is like seeing a pair of fireflies in Tokyo from your home in Maryland.
- Hubble has peered back into the very distant past, to locations more than 13.4 billion light years from Earth.
- The Hubble archive contains more than 120 terabytes, and Hubble science data processing generates about 10 Terabytes of new archive data per year.
- Hubble weighed about 24,000 pounds at launch and currently weighs about 27,000 pounds following the final servicing mission in 2009 – on the order of two full-grown African elephants.
- Hubble's primary mirror is 2.4 meters (7 feet, 10.5 inches) across.
- Hubble is 13.3 meters (43.5 feet) long -- the length of a large school bus.