Cosmic Wonder Snaps
The following images taken by the recently repaired Hubble telescope were released September 9, 2009.
Colorful Stars Galore Inside Globular Star Cluster Omega Centauri
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope snapped this panoramic view of a colorful assortment of 100,000 stars residing in the crowded core of a giant star cluster. The image reveals a small region inside the massive globular cluster Omega Centauri, which boasts nearly 10 million stars. Globular clusters, ancient swarms of stars united by gravity, are the homesteaders of our Milky Way galaxy. The stars in Omega Centauri are between 10 billion and 12 billion years old. The cluster lies about 16,000 light-years from Earth.
Object Name: Omega Centauri (NGC 5139)
Object Description: Globular Star Cluster
Position (J2000): R.A. 13h 26m 45s.9
Dec. -47° 28′ 37″
Distance: 16,000 light-years or 4,800 parsecs
Dimensions: This image is 1.4 arcminutes (6.3 light-years or 1.9 parsecs) wide.
Jet in Carina: WFC3 UVIS Full Field
Full-field image of a stellar jet in the Carina Nebula, imaged by Hubble’s WFC3/UVIS detector. See bottom image for more information.
Jet in Carina: WFC3 IR
Hubble WFC3 image of a stellar jet in Carina, observed in infrared light. See bottom image for more information.
Butterfly Emerges from Stellar Demise in Planetary Nebula NGC 6302
What resemble dainty butterfly wings are actually roiling cauldrons of gas heated to more than 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The gas is tearing across space at more than 600,000 miles an hour—fast enough to travel from Earth to the Moon in 24 minutes!
Object Name: NGC 6302 (Butterfly Nebula, Bug Nebula)
Object Description: Planetary Nebula
Position (J2000): R.A. 17h 13m 43s.3
Dec. -37° 06′ 10″
Distance: 3,800 light-years (1,200 parsecs)
Dimensions: This image is 2.4 arcminutes (2.7 light-years or 0.8 parsecs) wide.
Galactic Wreckage in Stephan’s Quintet
An assortment of stars across a wide color range, from young, blue stars to aging, red stars. This portrait of Stephan’s Quintet, also known as Hickson Compact Group 92, was taken by the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) aboard NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Stephan’s Quintet, as the name implies, is a group of five galaxies. The name, however, is a bit of a misnomer. Studies have shown that group member NGC 7320, at upper left, is actually a foreground galaxy about seven times closer to Earth than the rest of the group. Galaxy group Stephan’s Quintet is located in the constellation Pegasus.
Object Name: Stephan’s Quintet (HCG 92)
Object Description: Interacting Galaxy Group
Position (J2000): R.A. 22h 35m 57s.51
Dec. +33° 57′ 35″.68
Distance: Thes Quintet is 290 million light-years (90 million parsecs) away. The foreground, superposed NGC 7320 is 40 million light-years (12 million parsecs) away.
Dimensions: This image is 4 arcminutes (345,000 light-years or 106,000 parsecs) wide.
Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 6217
This is the first image of a celestial object taken with the newly repaired Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). The camera was restored to operation during the STS-125 servicing mission to upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope. The barred spiral galaxy NGC 6217 was photographed on June 13 and July 8, 2009, as part of the initial testing and calibration of Hubble’s ACS. The galaxy lies 6 million light-years away in the north circumpolar constellation Ursa Major.
Object Name: NGC 6217
Object Description: Barred Spiral Galaxy
Position (J2000): R.A. 16h 32m 39s.2
Dec. +78° 11′ 53″
Constellation: Ursa Minor
Distance: 6 million light-years or 21 million parsecs
Dimensions: This image is 2.2 arcminutes (44,000 light-years or 13,400 parsecs) wide.
Gravitational Lensing in Galaxy Cluster Abell 370
Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) has peered nearly 5 billion light-years away to resolve intricate details in the galaxy cluster Abell 370, one of the very first galaxy clusters where astronomers observed the phenomenon of gravitational lensing, where the warping of space by the cluster’s gravitational field distorts the light from galaxies lying far behind it. This is manifested as arcs and streaks in the picture, which are the stretched images of background galaxies.
Gravitational Lens Detail in Abell 370
Object Name: Abell 370
Object Description: Cluster of Galaxies
Position (J2000): R.A. 02h 39m 49s.90
Dec. -01° 34′ 26″.70
Distance: 4.9 billion light-years (1.5 billion parsecs)
Dimensions: This image is 2.4 arcminutes (3.4 million light-years or 1 million parsecs) wide.
Stars Bursting to Life in the Chaotic Carina Nebula
These two images of a huge pillar of star birth demonstrate how observations taken in visible and in infrared light by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveal dramatically different and complementary views of an object. The pictures demonstrate one example of the broad wavelength range of the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) aboard the Hubble telescope, extending from ultraviolet to visible to infrared light.
Composed of gas and dust, the pillar resides in a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina. The pair of images shows that astronomers have a much more complete view of the pillar and its contents when distinct details not seen at visible wavelengths are uncovered in near-infrared light.
The top image, taken in visible light, shows the tip of the 3-light-year-long pillar, bathed in the glow of light from hot, massive stars off the top of the image. Scorching radiation and fast winds (streams of charged particles) from these stars are sculpting the pillar and causing new stars to form within it. Streamers of gas and dust can be seen flowing off the top of the structure.
Nestled inside this dense structure are fledgling stars. They cannot be seen in this image because they are hidden by a wall of gas and dust. Although the stars themselves are invisible, one of them is providing evidence of its existence. Thin puffs of material can be seen traveling to the left and to the right of a dark notch in the center of the pillar. The matter is part of a jet produced by a young star. Farther away, on the left, the jet is visible as a grouping of small, wispy clouds. A few small clouds are visible at a similar distance on the right side of the jet. Astronomers estimate that the jet is moving at speeds of up to 850,000 miles an hour. The jet’s total length is about 10 light-years.
In the image at bottom, taken in near-infrared light, the dense column and the surrounding greenish-colored gas all but disappear. Only a faint outline of the pillar remains. By penetrating the wall of gas and dust, the infrared vision of WFC3 reveals the infant star that is probably blasting the jet. Part of the jet nearest the star is more prominent in this view. These features can be seen because infrared light, unlike visible light, can pass through the dust.
Other infant stars inside the pillar also appear to emerge. Three examples are the bright star almost directly below the jet-producing star, a fainter one to its right, and a pair of stars at the top of the pillar. Winds and radiation from some of the stars are blowing away gas from their neighborhoods, carving out large cavities that appear as faint dark holes.
Surrounding the stellar nursery is a treasure chest full of stars, most of which cannot be seen in the visible-light image because dense gas clouds veil their light. Many of them are background stars.
Object Name: Jet in Carina
Object Description: Stellar Jet/Young Stellar Object
Position (J2000): R.A. 10h 43m 51s.30
Dec. -59° 55′ 21″.0
Distance: 7,500 light-years (2,300 parsecs)
Dimensions: This image is 3 arcminutes (6.6 light-years or 2.0 parsecs) wide.
Images and captions [edited] courtesy of Hubble Site News Center. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team