Where there is an observatory and a telescope, we expect that any eyes will see new worlds at once. -Henry D. Thoreau
20 years ago tomorrow, the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into orbit.
It doesn't look that impressive, and maybe it shouldn't. After all, what is a space telescope? It's a couple of mirrors, a camera, some stabilizing gyroscopes, some electronics and an antenna, all wrapped in a reflective coating and powered by some solar panels. Doesn't sound so hard, does it?
But Hubble has vastly increased our understanding of the Universe, and I'd like to share with you some of the highest highlights of what we've found with it. (And feel free to share your favorite bits in the comments.)
1.) SN 1987a. In 1987, a supernova went off in the Large Magellanic Cloud. As far as we can tell, that's the closest supernova to us since 1604! The image above is what that supernova remnant looks like as of 2007, the most spectacular image of a recent supernova ever taken!
2.) Planetary Nebulae. When our Sun dies, it's going to blow off its outer layers of gas and collapse into a white dwarf. Thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope, we have unprecedented pictures of what these planetary nebulae look like. Some are asymmetric, such as NGC 2818 (above), while others are almost perfectly spherical, like the Ring Nebula (below).
There are even other cases too, like the famous Cat's Eye Nebula (below), which is maybe the most spectacular one to my eye.
But out beyond single stars, Hubble has taken fabulous looks at clusters of stars! These come in two different major types.
3.) Open Star Clusters. These are regions of space where thousands of stars have formed recently, and Hubble is amazing for photographing these regions. Above is NGC 3603, and if it doesn't make your jaw drop now, try clicking on it. Just try and not be awed; I dare you. But there's another type of cluster of stars out there...
4.) Globular Clusters. Collections of hundreds of thousands to even millions of stars over just a few light years, these objects -- many of which are found in our own galaxy -- are the densest collections of stars that we know of. And Hubble, rather than showing us a faint fuzzy blob, can resolve individual stars of different colors at the hearts of these clusters, like Omega Centauri, above. (Again, if you don't think this is impressive, try clicking on it.) But not everything that Hubble does lives in or near the Milky Way...
5.) Other spiral galaxies! Whether it's an edge-on spiral like the Sombrero Galaxy (above) or a face-on spiral like the Whirlpool Galaxy (below), there are few sights as beautiful as a few hundred billion stars collected in one image like these, and Hubble continues to bring them to us like no other telescope/camera combo can.
(Again, click for the big, huge, hi-res images.)
But not all galaxies are spirals. Hubble has photographed elliptical galaxies, irregular galaxies, but my rare favorite non-spiral?
6.) Ring galaxies. Take a look at the bizarre beauty of Ring Galaxy AM 0644-741 (above). But what really strikes me about this image is something you won't notice at first glance... what happens if you take a look at the lower left portion of this image? The part, I mean, that doesn't even include this Ring Galaxy?
7.) New, faint, super-distant galaxies! That's right, Hubble's "eye" is so powerful that it finds the faintest, most distant galaxies that we've ever discovered! In fact, this brings us to my favorite image of all-time.
What would happen if you took a completely blank patch of sky? No known stars, no known galaxies, nothing at all? What would happen if you just pointed your space telescope at it and left the shutter open on the camera? Hour after hours, day after day, just sitting there, collecting photons one at a time? What would you see?
Nothing? Something? Anything? Hubble did that, and it saw this.
8.) The Hubble Deep Field. Thousands and thousands of galaxies. From hundreds of millions to billions of light years away. You think it's just a bunch of dots? Try clicking on it; each "dot" is its own galaxy! In fact, after they switched out the camera that took this for a better one, they too an even better one: the Hubble Ultra Deep Field!
And that's what our Universe looks like, from individual stars up to the most distant galaxies ever seen, all through the eye of this one magnificent telescope.
So thank you, Hubble, for 20 years of simply fantastic awesome service. And make no mistake about it, I know you're not even close to finished yet. Keep it up, and I'll keep on thinking of you. Happy Birthday.
Thanks for this, Ethan. All incredible - but those deep field photos, wow, wow, wow...
I'm among the layest of laypeople, though I enjoy reading about history of science, etc. An astronomical topic I haven't seen much discussed is the influence of Earth's giant moon on terrestrial geologic and biological development and history - a pretty important subject, since the Moon's size seems to be anomalous among planetary satellites as far as we know now. Possible influences ranging from that of lunar gravitation on Earth's internal activity, continental drift, etc., to that of apparent size/solar eclipses on human intellectual development come to mind - - and then I find myself wondering whether there would be any complex life or sentient species here if it weren't for the accident of a huge satellite.
But looking at ALL those galaxies, I find it easier to imagine that there must be or have been other systems where other civilizations (however defined) arose. The variables, the possibilities, are so immense.
(As a pro, please excuse the evidences of ignorance in the above!)
Thanks Ethan and thank you Hubble and NASA.
Jaw dropping and awe inspiring.
The Hubble Ultra Deep Field...cool, *kinda makes me home sick*.
Most likely the best money ever spent.
Thanks, to all those who brought us an excellent new view.
How many more years of service is possible?
The Hubble deep field, when it came out, just blew my mind. It still does every time I see it. It is probably the single most humbling photo in history. You would think if every person on this planet looked at it, our petty differences would dry up and blow away, but no, alas....
I remember very well the horror many of felt after Hubble launched and it was revealed that there was a flaw in the main mirror. The difficulties involved in fixing it, I feared, would be enough for Congress to just write off the main telescope entirely. I was so glad to be proven wrong, and indeed Hubble has repaid its cost to us many times over.
So, which one is the Star Wars Galaxy? lol
Many more years to you Hubble!
Wow, to say we are insignificant is really an understatement!
Ethan: "It" -- the Hubble Space Telescope -- "doesn't look that impressive"
I disagree: the Hubble Space Telescope looks *very* impressive.
Thanks. It makes me think of Ellie's line in Carl Sagan's "Contact" (referring to her inter-stellar journey), "They should have sent a poet." Here's one (a song by Mary McCaslin):
The astronomer has even gone to bed --
the stars and distances grow dim inside his head;
and, just like me, he doesn't care too much --
he's tired of looking at those stars he cannot touch...
I'll never get tired of it, but there's a kind of existential longing that will not be satisfied. The only thing worse would be to not live with such longing.
These images are so awe inspiring and they really expand your mind so that we may take another look at who we are, where we may have come from and why are we here? It helps us to see our smallness and at the same time how our minds can be expanded to take this all in. Thanks for sharing and thanks to Nasa and Hubble for making it possible.
When i let my eyes wander the ultra deep field image, I know most people spend time looking at the larger more detailed galaxies. Me, I cant stop starting at the minute ones no larger then the peroid on this sentence. If only we could view those in greater detail. What could they teach us? It really puts our planet into perspective in regards to the rest of the universe and how minute we truly are in the grand scheme of things. What a beautiful place we exist in. How fortunate we are to have been born at a time in history where we are able understand and view the outer edges of the observable universe.
Now where are the parallel universes?
@habrow2 They're there - you just have to turn your monitor through 90 degrees to see them.
Astronomical photographs are easily my favourite type (other than perhaps attractive women). The Cat's Eye Nebula has to be my favourite though, I'm made it an avatar.
It's really awesome.
The work which Hubble has done can't do nothing other devices of this world.We will miss the Hubble Telescope.......................
i was trippin man!!!!
Thanks for the pictures .. from bottom of my heart..
I hope the next gen telescope James webb will give us more data to analyze
Wow, God really knows how to create beauty.
How big is God, how big and wide His vast domain, to try to tell this lips can only start, how big enough to rule this mighty universe...but small enough to live within my heart. Thanks Ethan for sharing these and thanks Hubble!
Well, it seems god is kind of a magician to have created all that in just six days. Or is it a lie? So a book which intends to be a moral guide to mankind should not contain lies. So.......
And these are but the outer fringe of His works, how faint the whisper we hear of Him! Who then can understand the thunder of His power? Job 26:14
Amazing! People will drag me into most any conversation!! I'm God and am pulling back the shroud because...what the hell...the end is near anyway. After billions (trillions?) of years I'm tired....these days I'm chillin', smoking a fattie, a cold beer when it's hot, and always great wine with dinner.
Glad you like the pics, props to those clever minds at NASA (I WAS feeling under appreciated) and always, always FOLLOW THE GOLDEN RULE!!
Nearer my heart to thee,
"Who then can understand the thunder of His power? Job 26:14"
Since god was made up by man, everyone can understand the "thunder of his power".
Bullshit! the earth is flat, we have never left low earth orbit. Space is not real.
And you're a moron, Carl.
My Dad always told me that there are 2 things friends should never talk about if they wish to remain friends: religion and politics. What business is it of mine what others believe. Live and let live folks.
That may be eminently sensible, but none of the godbotherers believe they should follow that. And nobody, especially not you, despite probably sharing their nomenclature of religion (though an entirely different ACTUAL religion), will make them change their insistence on bleating out their religion to others.
Hell, not even the bloody bible can stop them from preaching every fucking place they can. You have no chance.
The only way to stop it is to give as much push back against religion and NONACCEPTANCE of religion so that that Overton Window doesn't shift over to the religious whacko side.
I just love how the discussion turned all religious for no reason.
That's kind of what always happens on science subjects: godbotherers insist on bringing their fairy tales into it, because they're really insecure about people not agreeing with their version of what mythology is "really true".
If they just showed the same sense of decency (or even just believed in NOMA as much as they pronounce it in their defence) as scientists do who DO NOT go on to church sites and tell them that their god is a load of made up crap and that the universe was NOT created by a bearded skyman, etc., then this wouldn't happen.
But, no, despite all the claims of how school is "brainwashing" their kids with "atheism", the only ones insisting on shoving their theories down people's throats even where it's irrelevant, are the godbotherers.
Hey, all. Ethans birthday starts in about a half hour. Let' wish him a happy day from all of us & leave the religious back-biting bits out for at least 24 hours.( Preferably longer, seeing this is not a site for such .)
" the only ones insisting on shoving their theories down people’s throats even where it’s irrelevant, are the godbotherers"
Same goes for those humanistbotherers that use the courts to shove their mythical beliefs down peoples throats.
"Affordable Healthcare Act"...LMFAO
"Same goes for those humanistbotherers"
Yeah, no shit. Completely unoriginal bullcrap from a godbotherer with nothing better on his side.
This is a science site.
You know, "not god".
Hence all this got shit you go on about, OT.
Meanwhile what "humanistbothering"?
(and since I don't see a problem with it even if it WERE happening, tough shit, retard)
"“Affordable Healthcare Act”…LMFAO"
First appearance of that on this thread: You.
It seems that, like your god, this "humanistbothering" happening on this site exists only in your brain.
(oh, and how "christian" of you to want people to die from preventable disease because you're too tight to give to the health of the less fortunate)
"Hence all this got shit you go on about, OT."
Liar, hell you have yet to give a definition of a "Godbotherer".
Your always chasing ghost with that OCD of your shoot first and ask questions later mentality.
The "Godbother" is in your head.
"Liar, hell you have yet to give a definition of a “Godbotherer”."
If you'd ever gone to school you would have found out about this thing called "Dictionary".
It means the word doesn't have to be defined by me. It can be defined BY SOMEONE ELSE.
Shocking, I know.
That a word doesn't have to be given a definition by me to have a definition.
But it's true, dumbass.
"Affordable Healthcare Act"
We've noticed you have a serious problem when words have more than one syllable.
"It means the word doesn’t have to be defined by me"
Yep, so you can leave it open to suit what ever you deem at the time.
"We’ve noticed you have a serious problem when words have more than one syllable."
I'm so charmed you take note.
Always looking for a cheap shot to insult people, that's not very humanist of you dean.
Perhaps you should review your manifesto:
See that Wowzy, I can respond to multiple post in one reply.
It's an easy trick, perhaps if you practiced long enough you could learn how.
That went to crap pretty quickly .......
Yes, Unfortunately PJ some folks just can't resist their human nature to pick at a 4 month old/ nearly 2 year old supposed religious scab comments that "bothers" them.
.Rather petty I suppose considering 21,000 people a day die from hunger related issues.
Perhaps you could try using less provocative language. No value in making life miserable for all the readers, unless that is the intent, of course. :)
"The only way to stop it is to give as much push back against religion and NONACCEPTANCE of religion so that that Overton Window doesn’t shift over to the religious whacko side."
Easier to leave it completely alone. If related to topic, no probs ..... :)
"Yep, so you can leave it open to suit what ever you deem at the time."
Dictionary, remember. Also an odd projection. It was YOU who claimed a definition that was entirely your own construction and at odds with the one given from urbandicitonary provided as a clue for you.
A clue you didn't want and have declared nonexistent so you don't have to take it.
"Always looking for a cheap shot to insult people"
Awww. So cute. You see yet more of yourself in others and hate it there, but love it in yourself. Actually that's not cute, that's psychopathy.
"See that Wowzy, I can respond to multiple post in one reply."
So can I. I choose not to. But what does your link have to do with the fact that nothing here apart from your claim it is here, has anything to say about humanism?
Now, if only you could ANSWER rather than simply "respond"...
"some folks just can’t resist their human nature to pick at a 4 month old/ nearly 2 year old supposed religious scab "
Sorry, a bullshit post doesn't become non bullshit because it's aged.
Some folks just can't hating the fact that their mythology is no longer sacrosanct and protected from all criticism any more.
What like that?
Are you saying that you believe that the only way to counter this religious bollocks being spouted here is to have NO ACCEPTANCE of any of that cockshite?
If so, I agree.
"Always looking for a cheap shot to insult people, that’s not very humanist of you dean."
Dean has never claimed to be a humanist. Only one bringing it up EVER here is you, you retarded godbotherer.
But you DO claim to be Christian.
And what does the New Testament say about your money and the poor or the sick?
That's right: give them all you have, even to the shirt on your back, and you will reap the reward in heaven.
Either you don't believe in Heaven, or you're not a christian, despite your claims otherwise.
Or you already knew I wasn't going to let you into heaven because I've had enough of your whining for decades and I sure as hell don't want to hear it for all frigging eternity.
"But what does your link have to do with the fact that nothing here apart from your claim it is here, has anything to say about humanism?"
About as much as your disillusioned "Godbother" ghost your chasing.
"So can I. I choose not to"
Because your a selfish narcissistic person who loves their name in lights on the post board, Dis-regarding and disrespecting anyone else post by pushing it off the board.
"Sorry, a bullshit post doesn’t become non bullshit because it’s aged."
Nope, No "Godbother" No Ramming Religious shit down your throat Just your lunatic rage from your mind to a keyboard based on a couple post, one being 4 Years old.
"Some folks just can’t hating the fact that their mythology is no longer sacrosanct and protected from all criticism any more."
Hate to break it to ya, Your perceived mythology ghost is not going away no matter how loud you shout and stomp your feet.
Sure a decline to some extent in the western world, but globally it's on the rise at a very fast pace.
@#46 Utter FAILURE!!!
"Dean has never claimed to be a humanist. Only one bringing it up EVER here is you, you retarded godbotherer."
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.....IT's A DUCK!!
"And what does the New Testament say about your money and the poor or the sick?"
ME give, NOT some progressive humanist taking it from me by force to push their own agenda. Get It Right Fool.
"About as much as your disillusioned “Godbother” ghost your chasing."
No, yours has NOTHING to do with it.
Whereas you are a godbotherer. Shrill in your denunciations of any fact of truth because it devastates you that your fantasy is just ridiculous myth.
"If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…..IT’s A DUCK!!"
1) Still means 100% NOT A FAIL AT ALL the claim that dean hasn't claimed he's a humanist.
Do you not know what "not said he's a humanist" means? It just means they've NOT SAID THEY ARE A HUMANIST you retarded smeg stain.
2) Since your actions denote you're not a believer in heaven or christ then you're not a christian, despite your claims otherwise.
"“And what does the New Testament say about your money and the poor or the sick?”
Yet you don't.
But the ACA isn't stopping you from doing it, what it meant was that more people had insurance and it wasn't allowed to give them fake insurance that covered them for NOTHING. And limits the profiting from the sick.
So what is your whining other than "More people are getting health care? I HATES IT!!!!".
Or is the problem that there's a nigger in charge and you're terrified?
And you don't give to the government (what, apart from the authority source claimed, is the difference between government and religious establishment? NOTHING) to give to the poor either, but whine and whinge about it constantly.
"Render unto Caesar that which is due Caesar" ring a bell?
Yeah, you're not a christian, you merely prattle about god as a stick to beat others with, never actually wanting to do anything about it.
"Your perceived mythology ghost is not going away no matter how loud you shout and stomp your feet."
I don't perceive any ghost. They don't exist.
The MYTHOLOGIES about ghosts exist. And they will continue to exist, even as merely historical oddities as so many other myths and religions have in the past,without any stamping of feet. Mine or anothers'.
So quite what you;re trying to claim here is totally hidden by your raving mania and spittle flecked ranting.
The MYTHOLOGY of ghosts exist, but I'm not trying to pretend the mythology exists.
"No, yours has NOTHING to do with it."
Quite the contrary, you run about as chicken little even when a mere verse is quoted by someone.... AHH Jesus Cooties ARG!!!
1) Still means 100% NOT A FAIL AT ALL the claim that dean hasn’t claimed he’s a humanist.
"Do you not know what “not said he’s a humanist” means? It just means they’ve NOT SAID THEY ARE A HUMANIST you retarded smeg stain."
OH, so based on your warped logic the head choppers in the middle east are not barbaric butchers because they don't claim they are. They are just righteous fellows ya know, that's their claim and all that matters.
RUBBISH I say.
"2) Since your actions denote you’re not a believer in heaven or christ then you’re not a christian, despite your claims otherwise.
““And what does the New Testament say about your money and the poor or the sick?”
Yet you don’t."
One minute your calling me this and the next your saying I'm not.
MAKE UP YOUR MIND you raving lunatic. But of'course you would have to have some semblance of reason to contemplate rational thinking which you lack, so I will have pity on you for that shortcoming.
"So quite what you;re trying to claim here is totally hidden by your raving mania and spittle flecked ranting"
Well if it's hidden, it's hidden in plain sight, but unfortunately you choose not to see. Email Professor Philip Jenkins and ask him if you don't believe me.
Perhaps you do though and are just project your self loathing onto others because you cast your lot with the wrong team.
So Sad Too Bad... Deal With It.
As for the rest of your bile filled accusations, they are not worth the electrons value to respond.
"Quite the contrary, you run about as chicken little even when a mere verse is quoted by someone"
Nope, I'm typing.
And, yes, I respond to someone else's ridiculous assertion of god existing and their off topic proselytizing here.
I thought you saw no problems in this?
Apparently only "no problem" if your insanity ridden death cult is given the same unearned "respect" that they used to get out of fear a century ago.
Just like ISIS do now where they are "in power".
"One minute your calling me this and the next your saying I’m not."
Nope. I'm calling you not a christian.
Quite how you get me calling you one is just another block of insanity dribble from your brian, moron.
"Well if it’s hidden, it’s hidden in plain sight,"
Nope, the insanity dribble that you ARE saying is in plain sight, but what it is you;re TRYING to say, if there is indeed some rational point to it all, is hidden.
Of course, it may be that the insanity dribble IS what you're trying to say.
"Of course, it may be that the insanity dribble IS what you’re trying to say.
Bingo, if you are finally realizing that I am pointing out your knee jerk jerking insanity dribbled rage against a false assumption.
Then yes you are correct.
Ah, so insanity dribble was your aim.
What for? It's definitely not working as "pointing out your knee jerk jerking insanity".
Or even where you think that is.
So is this again is more insanity dribbling from you?
"Or is the problem that there’s a nigger in charge and you’re terrified?"
That shows what a buffoon you are in lacking conman sense.
The most qualified person today to be President is Justice Clarence Thoma, I would vote for him, hands down best Jurist this nation has ever produced.
"So is this again is more insanity dribbling from you?"
Nope, it's from you
"That shows what a buffoon you are in lacking conman sense."
No, that shows what a moronic twat you appear to be. Your avoiding answering also indicates it has more than a sliver of truth to it.
"The most qualified person today ..."
Ah, just like a politician: pretend you've been asked a different question and answer that if you get a hard one.
What was it? Lies, Obfuscation and Deflection?
All appearing again by you.
It is also no surprise that your "go to guy" is a bigot who hates gays and thinks slavery was fine.
Which when we go back to the "You're scared because there's a nigger in charge" charge...
"Which when we go back to the “You’re scared because there’s a nigger in charge” charge…"
Wrong again Eurotrash..
He represents a party that I have disdain for. Pretty simple.
Just like that my disdain for that filthy hag Hillary and her disgusting hubby.
"Wrong again Eurotrash.."
Nope, you claim it is wrong. Yet all evidence shows that this is endemic in the right wing in the USA and you are likely to be under the same delusional fear.
For example,this is the same party that you had little problem over and a president who took on many republican policies and STILL got filibustered (Obamacare being exactly the same as Romneycare, but after republican interference, with even less of a social aspect than Romneycare).
Saying "WRONG!" doesn't prove it is wrong.
Only that you're in denial, at least publicly.
"Yet all evidence shows that this is endemic "
Romneycare? That's your proof? LMAO!!
That was in Liberal bastion Massachusetts.
Very poor analytical reasoning wowzer, you need to work a bit harder.