How the Hubble telescope changed Astronomy + Beginning with Astronomy

From the beginning of the human race, to nearly only 400 years ago, everything we knew about space would be observed from the naked eye. Then Galileo came up with his telescope, and the world awakened. We learned Saturn had rings. Jupiter had moons. Within just a few years  of that, our entire understanding of the Universe changed. In the next few centuries, telescopes became more complex, of different sizes, lengths, and powers. Hubble is up in space, the ultimate viewing spot. Unhindered by weather, light pollution, or any other inconveniences, it is used by scientists to study the great cosmos.

For 26 years now, the HST (Hubble Space Telescope) has been enthralling us with its spectacular images of nebulae, galaxies, and other space phenomena.

Against a stunning backdrop of thousands of galaxies, this odd-looking galaxy with the long streamer of stars appears to be racing through space, like a runaway pinwheel firework.

However, the telescope does more than just take pictures all day for us to enjoy. The HST was a combined NASA(National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and ESA (European Space Agency) project, which went up with tons more scientific instruments than just a powerful camera.

Since being put in orbit, over 4000 astronomers have used it to publish ~13000 scientific papers on various topics. The HST is truly a marvel of civilization. When Hubble went up, it had a flawed mirror, which was sending back blurry images. After a 1993 servicing mission, the flaws were rectified, and from then, it’s been taking pictures of all the amazing things we know it for. It’s been used to look at other planets, their moons, further galaxies, and nebulae.

This image of a pair of interacting galaxies called Arp 273 was released to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the launch of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

It’s been used to find water on planets, moons, and other asteroids. It’s been used to map Pluto, the furthest planet from us (now a dwarf planet). NASA’s New Horizons mission will rival the HST, but it will take 9 years to get close enough to Pluto to give any challenge to the HST.

It’s been used to calculate the lifespan of the universe, Hubble helped astronomers nail down the age of the universe with an accuracy of about 5 percent. Our Galaxy, the Milky Way is set to collide with the Andromeda Galaxy, speeding towards us at the speed of a bullet. We know this all thanks to Hubble.

The Bubble Nebula, also known as NGC 7635, is an emission nebula located 8 000 light-years away. This stunning new image was observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to celebrate its 26th year in space.

“When massive stars reach the end of their lives, they explode in a fiery death known as a supernova. These violent blowouts may leave behind black holes or supercompact neutron stars even as they blow the heavy elements that form in the heart of the star through their galaxy. Hubble has helped scientists to better understand the supernova process.” – Space.com

Hubble facts (from NASA):

  • Hubble has made more than 1.2 million observations since its mission began in 1990.
  • Astronomers using Hubble data have published more than 14,000 scientific papers, making it one of the most productive scientific instruments ever built.
  • Hubble does not travel to stars, planets or galaxies. It takes pictures of them as it whirls around Earth at about 17,000 mph.
  • Hubble has traveled more than 3 billion miles along a circular low Earth orbit currently about 340 miles in altitude.
  • Hubble has no thrusters. To change pointing angles, it uses Newton’s third law by spinning its wheels in the opposite direction. It turns at about the speed of a minute hand on a clock, taking 15 minutes to turn 90 degrees.
  • Hubble has the pointing accuracy of .007 arc seconds, which is like being able to shine a laser beam on a dime 200 miles away.
  • Outside the haze of our atmosphere, Hubble can see astronomical objects with an angular size of 0.05 arc seconds, which is like seeing a pair of fireflies in Tokyo from your home in Maryland.
  • Hubble has peered back into the very distant past, to locations more than 13.4 billion light years from Earth.
  • The Hubble archive contains more than 120 terabytes, and Hubble science data processing generates about 10 Terabytes of new archive data per year. 
  • Hubble weighed about 24,000 pounds at launch and currently weighs about 27,000 pounds following the final servicing mission in 2009 – on the order of two full-grown African elephants.
  • Hubble’s primary mirror is 2.4 meters (7 feet, 10.5 inches) across.
  • Hubble is 13.3 meters (43.5 feet) long — the length of a large school bus.
[END OF HUBBLE ARTICLE]

Beginning with Astronomy

Refer to http://hridaysabir.blogspot.in/2016/08/a-beginners-guide-to-astronomy.html for all the basic requirements and the introduction to get into Astronomy.

Resources

Refer to http://hridaysabir.blogspot.in/2016/07/space-why-is-it-so-intriguing-space.html for all space-related websites, blogs, other material and bonus Instagram pages!

The Hubble Space Telescope Slideshow

Here are some of the HST’s best pictures.

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