NASA named the world's first space-based optical telescope after American astronomer Edwin P. Hubble. Born in 1889, he confirmed the theory of an expanding universe. Hubble died in 1953. The Hubble Space Telescope is 13.2 m long, up to 4.2m in diameter, and weighs 11,110 kg on Earth. The $1,500,000,000 instrument was deployed in orbit on 24 April 1990 from the loading bay of the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Since then Hubble has made a huge number of new observations from outside Earth's atmosphere, orbiting 600 km above the surface.
Every week new images are published on the European Space Agency's Hubble website www.spacetelescope.org. But hidden in Hubbles huge data archives are still some truly breathtaking images that have never been seen in public. The ESA is calling them Hubbles Hidden Treasures. Between 27 March and 31 May 2012 they asked the public to explore Hubbles vast science archive to identify the best unseen images.
People were invited to find a dataset in the Hubble Legacy Archive, adjust the contrast and colours using the simple online tools, and submit to the Hubble website. For a greater challenge anyone could freely use the software that the professionals use to turn Hubble data into images.
These are a few of the amazing Hubble images we like at audacity...
Messier 74, also called NGC 628, is roughly 32 million light-years away in the direction of the constellation Pisces. It dominates a small group of galaxies, and consists of about 100 billion stars, making it slightly smaller than the Milky Way galaxy. It was first discovered by French Astronomer Pierre Méchain in 1780, and was immediately added to Charles Messier's Catalogue des Nébuleuses et des Amas d'Étoiles. Concerned with Nebulae and Star Clusters, and originally published in 1771, the last addition based on Messier's observations was made in 1966, making a total of 110 deep-sky objects. Messier 74 has the lowest surface brightness of the objects in the catalogue, and is hard to see from Earth bound telescopes. 29 November 2007
The larger of the two stars in the Eta Carinae system is a huge and unstable star nearing the end of its life. In 1843 it was the second brightest star in the sky. It gradually dimmed again, and by the twentieth century was invisible to the naked eye. This is an example of a stellar near-death experience, or a Supernova Impostor Event, which stop short of destroying their star. The larger Eta Carinae star is likely to explode in a supernova in the relatively near future, though in astronomical timescales that could be a million years away. 20 February 2012
The outbursts are from VY Canis Majoris, a red supergiant star as it nears the end of its life. Astronomer Roberta Humphreys of the University of Minnesota measured the ejected material, and mapped the distribution of the highly polarized dust, which reflects light at a specific orientation. 8 January 2007
At the outer edge of the Milky Way galaxy the red supergiant star V838 Monocerotis is located about 20,000 light-years away from Earth, in the constellation Monoceros. The illumination of interstellar dust comes from the star at the image centre, which gave off a flashbulb-like pulse of light, called a Light Echo, first recorded by Hubble in early 2002. 3 February 2005
When 17th-century astronomers first turned their telescopes to Jupiter, they noted a reddish spot on the giant Planet. This Giant Red Spot is still present in Jupiter's atmosphere, more than 300 years later. It is now known to be a vast storm reaching wind speeds of about 400 kilometres per hour. Unlike a low-pressure hurricane on Earth the Giant Red Spot rotates in a counterclockwise direction in the southern hemisphere, showing that it is a high-pressure system. 5 August 1999
This Hubble image shows the Massive Galaxy Cluster MACS J0717.5+3745, known as MACS J0717. Four Galaxy Clusters have been involved in a collision, and this image represents the first time such a phenomenon has been documented. MACS J0717 is located 5.4 billion light-years from Earth, and is one of the most complex of Galaxy Clusters seen to date. 16 April 2009
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