Astronomers today declared the Hubble Space Telescope a fully rejuvenated observatory ready for a new decade of exploration, with the release of observations from four of its six operating science instruments. Topping the list of exciting new views are colourful multi-wavelength pictures of far-flung galaxies, a densely packed star cluster, an eerie “pillar of creation” and a butterfly-shaped nebula. Hubble’s suite of new instruments is now allowing it to view a wide swath ofthe Universe’s spectrum, from ultraviolet light all the way to near-infrared light.
The new instruments are more sensitive to light and therefore will significantly improve Hubble’s observing efficiency. The space telescope is now able to complete observations in a fraction of the time that was needed with earlier generations of Hubble instruments. Therefore the space observatory today is significantly more powerful than it has ever been.
“This marks a new beginning for Hubble,” said Ed Weiler, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. “The telescope has been given an extreme makeover and is
now significantly more powerful than ever — well equipped to last far into the next decade.”
What will Hubble be focusing its gaze on? Astronomers look forward to using the telescope to conduct a broad range of observations: from studying the population of Kuiper Belt objects at the fringe of our Solar System, to observing the birth of planets around other stars, to probing the composition and structure of extrasolar planetary atmospheres. There are ambitious plans to take the deepest-ever near-infrared portrait of the Universe to reveal never-before- seen infant galaxies that existed when the Universe was less than 500 million years old.
Check out th rest of the stunning new Hubble images in all their glory here. You can also download hi-rez copies for your screen wallpaper too
- Adapted from ESA news announcement
Posted in Space Exploration, stars | 111 Comments »