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Hubble Space Telescope Discoveries are more than a million. Studying the cosmos for over a century, the Hubble Space Telescope has realized millions of observations changing our main understanding of the universe. Hubble space telescope discoveries and memorable photos have also emerged the public’s interest in astronomy. Along with pictures of the telescope and the astronauts some memorable science images have become cultural icons. They appear on book covers, musical albums, clothing, TV shows, movies and even ecclesiastical stained-glass windows. Selecting Hubble Space Telescope discoveries from the thousands of amazing observations was difficult, but these serve to highlight some of Hubble’s greatest scientific achievements to date.
Shining a Light on Dark Matter
Dark matter is an invisible form of matter that makes up most of the universe’s mass and creates its underlying structure. Dark matter’s gravity drives normal matter (gas and dust) to gather and build up into stars and galaxies. Although astronomers cannot see dark matter, they can detect its influence by observing how the gravity of massive galaxy clusters, which contain dark matter. This phenomenon is called gravitational lensing. Hubble’s vision allows astronomers to map the distribution of dark matter in space using gravitational lensing.
Watching Light Echoes
Hubble has captured the echoes of light through space caused by the outburst of a star. In January 2002, an unexplained flash of light from a red supergiant star left what looked like an expanding bubble of debris. In fact, the light was simply illuminating clouds that were already in place around the star. Since light travels at a finite speed, the flash took years to reach the most distant clouds and expose them. This phenomenon is called a “light echo,” as it is reminiscent of sound waves echoing down a canyon and “revealing” its walls.
Discovering a Runaway Universe
The cosmos is getting bigger. Nearly a century ago Edwin Hubble measured the expansion rate of the universe. This value, called the Hubble constant, is an essential ingredient needed to determine the age, size and fate of the cosmos. Now, astronomers using Hubble have refined their estimates of the universe’s present expansion rate and are working to make it more correct. Hubble observations along have also shown that the universe is not just expanding, but accelerating: a discovery that won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics. Many scientists believe this acceleration is caused by a “dark energy” that pervades the universe. Dark energy can be thought of as a sort of “antigravity”.
Jupiter’s Red Spot
Jupiter is well known for its Great Red Spot, a giant storm roughly the size of Earth that has been continuously visible since at least the early 1800s. The mammoth storm has been shrinking in size for at least 80 years. Astronomers now use Hubble regularly to measure the Red Spot’s size and investigate why it is slowly disappearing.
Exploring the Birth of Stars
Hubble views of these nebulas disclose a bizarre landscape sculpted by radiation from young, exceptionally bright stars. The observations show that star birth is a violent process, producing intense ultraviolet radiation and shock fronts. The radiation clears out cavities in stellar nursery clouds and erodes material from giant gas pillars that are incubators for fledgling stars. Hubble has also captured energetic jets of glowing gas from young stars in unprecedented detail.
Galaxy NGC 3810
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