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Space… the final frontier

Fifty years ago Captain Kirk and the crew of the starship Enterprise began their journey into space - the final frontier. Now, as the newest Star Trek film hits cinemas, the NASA/ESA Hubble space telescope is also exploring new frontiers, observing distant galaxies in the galaxy cluster Abell S1063 as part of the Frontier Fields programme.

Space… the final frontier. These are the stories of the Hubble Space Telescope. Its continuing mission, to explore strange new worlds and to boldly look where no telescope has looked before. The newest target of Hubble’s mission is the distant galaxy cluster Abell S1063, potentially home to billions of strange new worlds.

This view of the cluster, which can be seen in the centre of the image, shows it as it was four billion years ago. But Abell S1063 allows us to explore a time even earlier than this, where no telescope has really looked before. The huge mass of the cluster distorts and magnifies the light from galaxies that lie behind it due to an effect called gravitational lensing. This allows Hubble to see galaxies that would otherwise be too faint to observe and makes it possible to search for, and study, the very first generation of galaxies in the Universe. “Fascinating”, as a famous Vulcan might say.

The first results from the data on Abell S1063 promise some remarkable new discoveries. Already, a galaxy has been found that is observed as it was just a billion years after the Big Bang.

Read more ~ SpaceDaily

Image: This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the galaxy cluster MACS J0416.1–2403. This is one of six being studied by the Hubble Frontier Fields programme, which together have produced the deepest images of gravitational lensing ever made.
   Credit: NASA, ESA and the HST Frontier Fields team (STScI)

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ripples: Crab Nebula, photographed by Hubble, autumn 2005.

10 images in 558 nm (green) light, September-December 2005.

The Crab Nebula is a cloud of gas 11 light years across, created by the collapse and explosion of a giant star in 1054 AD (a Type II supernova). At the centre of the nebula is a neutron star, the Crab Pulsar, the incredibly dense remnant of the original star; 1.5 to 2 times the mass of the Sun, but only 30 km across. Intense solar wind from the pulsar creates visible ripples in the surrounding nebula.

From Proposal 10526. Some more gifs of the Crab Nebula seen by Hubble.

Image credit: NASA/ESA/STScI. Animation: AgeOfDestruction.

Pillars of Creation in Visible and in Near-Infrared Light

“Pillars of Creation” is a photograph taken by the Hubble Telescope of elephant trunks of interstellar gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula, some 7,000 light years from Earth. They are so named because the gas and dust are in the process of creating new stars, while also being eroded by photoevaporation from the ultraviolet light of relatively close and hot stars that have recently formed.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Butterfly emerges from stellar demise

This celestial object looks like a delicate butterfly. But it is far from serene.

What resemble dainty butterfly wings are actually roiling cauldrons of gas heated to nearly 20 000 degrees Celsius. The gas is tearing across space at more than 950 000 kilometres per hour — fast enough to travel from Earth to the Moon in 24 minutes!

A dying star that was once about five times the mass of the Sun is at the centre of this fury. It has ejected its envelope of gases and is now unleashing a stream of ultraviolet radiation that is making the cast-off material glow. This object is an example of a planetary nebula, so-named because many of them have a round appearance resembling that of a planet when viewed through a small telescope.

Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team
Source: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic0910h/

Mystic Mountain in Visible and in Near-Infrared Light

Mystic Mountain is a term for a region within a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina. 

The visible-light view shows how scorching radiation and fast winds (streams of charged particles) from super-hot newborn stars in the nebula are shaping and compressing the pillar, causing new stars to form within it. Infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks. The colors in this composite image correspond to the glow of oxygen (blue), hydrogen and nitrogen (green), and sulfur (red).

The near-infrared-light image shows a plethora of stars behind the gaseous veil of the nebula’s background wall of hydrogen, laced with dust. The foreground pillar becomes semi-transparent because infrared light from background stars penetrates through much of the dust. A few stars inside the pillar also become visible.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio(STScI)

Timelapse of Jupiter’s auroras

This timelapse video of the vivid auroras in Jupiter’s atmosphere was created using observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble is particularly suited to observing and studying the auroras on the biggest planet in the Solar System, as they are brightest in the ultraviolet.

Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Nichols

Note: Magnetic fields can be a fascinating subject. Hopefully, Juno can shed some light on curious configurations such as this June 30, 2016 HST release.
~ JN Ph, 7.5

Saturn’s Rings at Maximum Tilt

In March 2003, Saturn’s rings were at maximum tilt toward Earth, a special event occurring every 15 years. With the rings fully tilted, astronomers get the best views of the planet’s Southern Hemisphere. They took advantage of the rings’ unique alignment by using Hubble to capture some stunning images.

Credit: NASA, ESA, E. Karkoschka, G. Bacon (STScI)

Never lucky. Always prepared.

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