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Hubble Space Telescope  This is the official account for NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, managed and operated by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Website: nasa.gov/hubble

An image of the nearby galaxy ESO 325-G004, created using data collected by Hubble and the MUSE instrument on the ESO’ Very Large Telescope. MUSE measured the velocity of stars in ESO 325-G004 to produce the velocity dispersion map that is overlaid on top of the Hubble image. Knowledge of the velocities of the stars allowed the astronomers to infer the mass of ESO 325-G004. The inset shows the Einstein ring resulting from the distortion of light from a more distant source by intervening lens ESO 325-004, which becomes visible after subtraction of the foreground lens light.

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Credit: ESO, ESA/Hubble, NASA
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This sparkling picture features a massive galaxy cluster named RXC J0232.2-4420. This image was taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Camera 3 as part of an observing program called RELICS (Reionization Lensing Cluster Survey). RELICS imaged 41 massive galaxy clusters with the aim of finding the brightest distant galaxies for the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope to study.

The enormous gravitational influence of such clusters distorts the space around them in such a way that they can be used as giant cosmic lenses that magnify distant background galaxies. Studying some of the earliest galaxies in the universe will tell us more about our cosmic origins.

RXC J0232.2-4420 was also featured in a study that focused on galaxy clusters that are especially luminous sources of X-rays. The study searched for diffuse light around the brightest galaxies in the clusters, among the most massive galaxies in the universe. This diffuse light comes from intergalactic stars strung out between the constituent galaxies of the cluster, and the aim of the study was to explore various theories for the origins of these stars. One theory is that they may have been stripped from their host galaxies during mergers and interactions.

For more on this story, head to nasa.gov/hubble

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, RELICS
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#OTD in 1995, Hubble observed the planet Neptune for the first time since the Voyager 2 flyby in August 1989. At the time, these images were the clearest images of Neptune.

For more on Hubble, head to nasa.gov/hubble

Credit: Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Happy #NationalBestFriendsDay! These interacting galaxies in Arp 274 take their relationship to an intergalactic level! The entire system resides about 400 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Virgo.
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Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

A ripple of bright blue gas threads through this galaxy like a misshapen lake system. The foreground of this image is littered with nearby stars with their gleaming diffraction spikes. A keen eye can also spot a few other galaxies that, while masquerading as stars at first glance, reveal their true nature on closer inspection.

The central galaxy streaked with color, IC 4870, was discovered by DeLisle Stewart in 1900 and is located approximately 28 million light-years away. It contains an active galactic nucleus: an extremely luminous central region so alight with radiation that it can outshine the rest of the galaxy put together. Active galaxies emit radiation across the complete electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to gamma rays, produced by the action of a central supermassive black hole that is devouring material getting too close to it. IC 4870 is also a Seyfert galaxy, a particular kind of active galaxy with characteristic emission lines.

IC 4870 has been imaged by Hubble for several studies of nearby active galaxies. By using Hubble to explore the small-scale structures of nearby active galaxies, astronomers can observe the traces of collisions and mergers, central galactic bars, nuclear starbursts, jets or outflows, and other interactions between a galactic nucleus and its surrounding environment. Images such as this can help astronomers understand more about the true nature of the galaxies we see throughout the cosmos.

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Credit: NASA, ESA

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#HubbleClassic Hubble's Imaging Spectrograph took a series of snapshots of Saturn's auroras dancing in the sky. The ultraviolet images were taken on Jan. 24, 26, 28 and 30, 2004. This dissolve sequence shows the auroras appearing as a ring of light circling the planet's polar region. Collisions with atoms and molecules make the gases in the planet's atmosphere glow in visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light. For more on Hubble, head to nasa.gov/hubble

Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Clarke (Boston University), and Z. Levay (STScI)

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This Hubble image shows a cluster of hundreds of galaxies located about 7.5 billion light-years from Earth. The brightest galaxy within this cluster, named SDSS J1156+1911, is visible in the lower middle of the frame. It was discovered by the Sloan Giant Arcs Survey, which studied data maps covering huge parts of the sky from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The survey found more than 70 galaxies that look to be significantly affected by a cosmic phenomenon known as gravitational lensing.

Gravitational lensing is one of the predictions of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. The mass contained within a galaxy is so immense that it can actually warp and bend the very fabric of its surroundings (known as space-time), forcing light to travel along curved paths. As a result, the image of a more distant galaxy appears distorted and amplified to an observer, as the light from it has been bent around the intervening galaxy. This effect can be very useful in astronomy, allowing astronomers to see galaxies that are either obscured or too distant to be otherwise detected by our current instruments.

Galaxy clusters are giant structures containing hundreds to thousands of galaxies, some with masses over one million billion times the mass of the Sun! SDSS J1156+1911 is only roughly 600 billion times the mass of the Sun, making it less massive than the average galaxy. However, it is massive enough to produce the fuzzy, greenish streak seen just below the brightest galaxy — the lensed image of a more distant galaxy.

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Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgment: Judy Schmidt (Geckzilla)
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Located about 100 million light-years away in the constellation of Vela, NGC3256 is approximately the same size as our Milky Way and belongs to the Hydra-Centaurus Supercluster. It still bears the marks of its tumultuous past in the extended luminous tails that sprawl out around the galaxy, thought to have formed 500 million years ago during the initial encounter between the 2 galaxies, which today form NGC3256. These tails are studded with young blue stars, which were born in the frantic but fertile collision of gas and dust.

When 2 galaxies merge, individual stars rarely collide because they are separated by such enormous distances, but the gas and dust of the galaxies do interact — with spectacular results. The brightness blooming in the center of NGC3256 gives away its status as a powerful starburst galaxy, host to vast amounts of infant stars born into groups and clusters. These stars shine most brightly in the far infrared, making NGC3256 exceedingly luminous in this wavelength domain.
NGC3256 has been the subject of much study due to its luminosity, its proximity, and its orientation: astronomers observe its face-on orientation, that shows the disc in all its splendor. NGC3256 provides an ideal target to investigate starbursts that have been triggered by galaxy mergers. It holds particular promise to further our understanding of the properties of young star clusters in tidal tails.

As well as being lit up by over 1000 bright star clusters, the central region of NGC3256 is also home to crisscrossing threads of dark dust and a large disc of molecular gas spinning around 2 distinct nuclei — the relics of the 2 original galaxies.
These 2 initial galaxies were gas-rich and had similar masses, as they seem to be exerting roughly equal influence on each other. Their spiral disks are no longer distinct, and in a few hundred million years time, their nuclei will also merge and the 2 galaxies will likely become united as a large elliptical galaxy.

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Credit: NASA, ESA
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#HubbleClassic The spiral galaxy M104 is commonly called the Sombrero Galaxy for its resemblance to the broad-brimmed Mexican hat. The galaxy is tilted nearly edge-on to Earth, allowing us to see the edge of the galaxy’s dusty disk, which appears as a dark band cutting across the whitish glow of stars. Most of the points of light swarming around the galaxy are giant collections of old stars known as globular clusters. Located 28 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Virgo, the Sombrero Galaxy can be spotted with backyard telescopes during the month of May.
For more on Hubble, head to nasa.gov/hubble

Credit: NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
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On this #MemorialDay, we honor all the men and women who have served our country in the military, including many of the astronauts who deployed and serviced Hubble. This year we remember astronaut Bruce McCandless, whom we lost in December 2017. His remarkable career as a Navy captain and NASA astronaut included helping to deploy Hubble in 1990.
1.This official NASA space shuttle portrait shows McCandless in his Extravehicular Activity (EVA) suit attached to the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) before his STS-41B shuttle flight in 1984.

2.McCandless (top left) and his STS-31 crewmates deployed Hubble in April 1990. Four of the five crewmembers served in the U.S. military: Charles Bolden (bottom left), Marine Corps; Loren Shriver (bottom center), Air Force; Kathryn Sullivan (bottom right), Navy; and Bruce McCandless (top left), Navy. Astronaut and astronomer Steven Hawley appears at top right.

3.McCandless became the first astronaut to fly untethered from a spacecraft when he piloted the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) during STS-41B in 1984.

4.McCandless (bottom center) poses for an on-orbit photo with his STS-31 Space Shuttle Discovery crewmates (left to right: Loren Shriver, Charles Bolden, Kathryn Sullivan, and Steven Hawley), who deployed the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit in April 1990.

5.McCandless speaks at an event celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope on Saturday, April 25, 2015, at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.

6.McCandless (far left) and crewmates Steve Hawley and Loren Shriver view the Hubble Space Telescope through a flight deck window on Space Shuttle Discovery during the telescope's deployment on April 25, 1990.

At first glance, this image is dominated by the vibrant glow of the swirling spiral to the lower left of the frame. However, this galaxy is far from the most interesting spectacle here — behind it sits a galaxy cluster.

Galaxies are not randomly distributed in space; they swarm together, gathered up by the unyielding hand of gravity, to form groups and clusters. The Milky Way is a member of the Local Group, which is part of the Virgo Cluster, which in turn is part of the 100,000-galaxy-strong Laniakea Supercluster.

The galaxy cluster seen in this image is known as SDSS J0333+0651. Clusters such as this can help astronomers understand the distant — and therefore early — universe. SDSS J0333+0651 was imaged as part of a study of star formation in far-flung galaxies. Star-forming regions are typically not very large, stretching out for a few hundred light-years at most, so it is difficult for telescopes to resolve them at a distance. Even using its most sensitive and highest-resolution cameras, Hubble can’t resolve very distant star-forming regions, so astronomers use a cosmic trick: they search instead for galaxy clusters, which have a gravitational influence so immense that they warp the space-time around them. This distortion acts like a lens, magnifying the light of galaxies (and their star-forming regions) sitting far behind the cluster and producing elongated arcs like the one seen in the upper left part of this image.

For more information, head to nasa.gov/hubble

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
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#HubbleClassic This colorful collection of 100,000 stars includes red giants, blue stragglers, white dwarfs & yellow Sun-like stars in the giant Omega Centauri star cluster. This image was one of the first taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 after being installed during Servicing Mission 4, which wrapped up 9 years ago this week.

For the latest and greatest on Hubble, head to nasa.gov/hubble

Credits: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team
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