In a change of venue from peering at the distant universe, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has taken a look at Earth's closest neighbor in space, the Moon. Hubble was aimed at one of the Moon's most dramatic and photogenic targets, the 58 mile-wide (93 km) impact crater Copernicus. The image was taken while the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) was aimed at a different part of the moon to measure the colors of sunlight reflected off the Moon. Hubble cannot look at the Sun directly and so must use reflected light to make measurements of the Sun's spectrum. Once calibrated by measuring the Sun's spectrum, the STIS can be used to study how the planets both absorb and reflect sunlight. (upper left) The Moon is so close to Earth that Hubble would need to take a mosaic of 130 pictures to cover the entire disk. This ground-based picture from Lick Observatory shows the area covered in Hubble's photomosaic with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. (center) Hubble's crisp bird's-eye view clearly shows the ray pattern of bright dust ejected out of the crater over one billion years ago, when an asteroid larger than a mile across slammed into the Moon. Hubble can resolve features as small as 600 feet across in the terraced walls of the crater, and the hummock-like blanket of material blasted out by the meteor impact. (lower right) A close-up view of Copernicus' terraced walls. Hubble can resolve features as small as 280 feet across.
Credits: John Caldwell (York University, Ontario), Alex Storrs (STScI), and NASA
4205 How Microshutters Are Used as a Mask
The microshutters enable Webb to observe multiple targets at once by allowing the light of targeted objects to pass through, and blocking the light from objects astronomers don't wish to study.
Credits: NASA and STScI.
2759 Hubble Supernova Bubble Resembles Holiday Ornament
A delicate sphere of gas, photographed by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, floats serenely in the depths of space. The pristine shell, or bubble, is the result of gas that is being shocked by the expanding blast wave from a supernova. Called SNR 0509-67.5 (or SNR 0509 for short), the bubble is the visible remnant of a powerful stellar explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a small galaxy about 160,000 light-years from Earth. Ripples in the shell's surface may be caused by either subtle variations in the density of the ambient interstellar gas, or possibly driven from the interior by pieces of the ejecta. The bubble-shaped shroud of gas is 23 light-years across and is expanding at more than 11 million miles per hour (5,000 kilometers per second). Astronomers have concluded that the explosion was one of an especially energetic and bright variety of supernovae. Known as Type Ia, such supernova events are thought to result from a white dwarf star in a binary system that robs its partner of material, takes on much more mass than it is able to handle, and eventually explodes. Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys observed the supernova remnant on Oct. 28, 2006, with a filter that isolates light from glowing hydrogen seen in the expanding shell. These observations were then combined with visible-light images of the surrounding star field that were imaged with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 on Nov. 4, 2010. With an age of about 400 years as seen from Earth, the supernova might have been visible to southern hemisphere observers around the year 1600. However, there are no known records of a "new star" in the direction of the LMC near that time. A more recent supernova in the LMC, SN 1987A, did catch the eye of Earth viewers and continues to be studied with ground- and space-based telescopes, including Hubble.
Credits: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); Acknowledgment: J. Hughes (Rutgers University)
1468 HUDF: Surveys Observed by Hubble Space Telescope
Credits: NASA, A. Feild and Z. Levay (STScI)
3525 Compass and Scale Image of Westerlund 2
Credits: Image: NASA, ESA, and Z. Levay (STScI); Science: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), and the Westerlund 2 Science Team
3406 Artist's View of a Dense Galaxy Core Forming
This illustration reveals the celestial fireworks deep inside the crowded core of a developing galaxy, as seen from a hypothetical planetary system. The sky is ablaze with the glow from nebulae, fledgling star clusters, and stars exploding as supernovae. The rapidly forming core may eventually become the heart of a mammoth galaxy similar to one of the giant elliptical galaxies seen today.
Credits: NASA, ESA, and Z. Levay and G. Bacon (STScI)
2342 Hubble Interacting Galaxy NGC 520
NGC 520 is the product of a collision between two disk galaxies that started 300 million years ago. It exemplifies the middle stages of the merging process: the disks of the parent galaxies have merged together, but the nuclei have not yet coalesced. It features an odd-looking tail of stars and a prominent dust lane that runs diagonally across the center of the image and obscures the galaxy. NGC 520 is one of the brightest galaxy pairs on the sky, and can be observed with a small telescope toward the constellation of Pisces, the Fish, having the appearance of a comet. It is about 100 million light-years away and about 100,000 light-years across. The galaxy pair is included in Arp's catalog of peculiar galaxies as Arp 157. This image is part of a large collection of 59 images of merging galaxies taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and released on the occasion of its 18th anniversary on 24th April 2008.
Credits: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and B. Whitmore (STScI)
1721 Visible and Infrared Views of Comet Tempel 1 (Artist's Concept)
These artist's concepts of Tempel 1 simulate an optical view of the comet (left), next to the simulated infrared view (right). The images illustrate the comet's shape, reflectivity, rotation rate and surface temperature, based on information from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope. Measurements from the Great Observatories indicate that the comet is a matte black object roughly 14 by 4 kilometers (8.7 by 2.5 miles), or about one-half the size of Manhattan. Spitzer detects the comet's infrared energy or heat, depicted by the reddish glow. The sunlit side of the nucleus is glowing warmly, and the nightside is about the temperature of deep space.
Credits: NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory-Caltech, and T. Pyle (Spitzer Science Center)
1224 DSS Image
DSS image (~15' wide) with approximate path of KBO.
Credits: Image Credit: NASA and M. Brown (Caltech)
1524 Hubble Space Telescope Spies Planetary Systems in the Making
Credits: Mark McCaughrean (Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy), C. Robert O'Dell (Rice University), and NASA
208 Comet P/Shoemaker-Levy 9
2615 Ground Image of Omega Centauri
This is an image from Fair Dinkum Skies, Western Australia (an affiliation of New Mexico Skies and Pingelly Heights Observatory). This image was used in a zoom animation highlighting the Omega Centauri Hubble release image.
Credits: R. Gendler, © 2008
4188 The Electromagnetic Spectrum (with Hubble, Webb, and Spitzer Highlights)
This infographic illustrates the spectrum of electromagnetic energy, specifically highlighting the portions detected by NASA’s Hubble, Spitzer, and Webb space telescopes. The portion of the spectrum labeled “visible,” with the colors of the rainbow, is what humans detect as visible light. Beyond the red end of the visible spectrum, the wavelengths are longer than the human eye can detect. The portion of the spectrum immediately beyond red is called infrared. Humans can feel infrared energy as heat. Each of these telescopes detects portions of the infrared spectrum and astronomers can analyze that data, essentially making the invisible visible. Longer wavelengths like infrared, microwave, and radio waves are able to pass through areas of dense gas clouds and other matter in the universe where shorter wavelengths get trapped. By detecting these longer wavelengths with telescopes, we are able to see things in the universe that we could never see in visible light. The infographic demonstrates how much of the electromagnetic spectrum each of these telescopes covers and also their combined coverage. There are other telescopes that detect other portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, and together these scientific instruments give us a more complete picture of the universe and how it functions.
Credits: NASA and J. Olmsted (STScI).
43 Eta Carinae
3694 Compass and Scale Image for Trumpler 14
Credits: NASA, ESA, and Z. Levay (STScI); Acknowledgment: J. Maíz Apellániz (Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, Spain) and N. Smith (University of Arizona)
3560 Star Cluster AP6
Credits: NASA, ESA, J. Dalcanton, B.F. Williams, L.C. Johnson (University of Washington), and the PHAT team
3267 P/2013 P5 on September 23, 2013
Credits: NASA, ESA, and D. Jewitt (University of California, Los Angeles), J. Agarwal (Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research), H. Weaver (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory), M. Mutchler (STScI), and S. Larson (University of Arizona)
3401 Hubble Survey Finds Two Kuiper Belt Objects to Support New Horizons Mission
These images are from a Hubble Space Telescope survey to find Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) in support of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto. The Kuiper Belt is a debris field of icy bodies left over from the solar system's formation 4.6 billion years ago. Once the New Horizons craft flies by Pluto in mid-2015, the team's goal is to get NASA's approval to retarget the probe to fly by a KBO, which might only measure 20 miles across. To test the feasibility of finding New Horizons targets with Hubble, a set of pilot Hubble observations were executed in June 2014. After a swift and intensive data analysis of approximately 200 Hubble images, the New Horizons team met the pilot program criterion of finding a minimum of two KBOs. Multiple exposures taken with Hubble tracked the KBOs moving against the background field of stars in the summer constellation Sagittarius. The image at left shows a KBO at an estimated distance of approximately 4 billion miles from Earth. Its position noticeably shifts between exposures taken approximately 10 minutes apart. The image at right shows a second KBO at roughly a similar distance. The positions of these newly discovered objects are not consistent with any KBOs discovered previously. In reality, they are too faint to have been seen with ground-based telescopes (magnitudes 26.8 and 27.3, respectively). It will be many weeks before the team can establish whether either of these pilot-program KBOs is a suitable target for New Horizons to visit, but their discovery provides sufficient evidence that a wider search to be executed with Hubble will find an optimum object.
Credits: NASA, ESA, SwRI, JHU/APL, and the New Horizons KBO Search Team
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