Hubble turns 30: Check out the marvel called universe
First Published Dec 12, 2020, 12:27 PM IST
Hubble Space Telescope turned 30 this year. To mark the occasion, NASA has released dozens of newly processed Hubble images featuring dazzling galaxies, sparkling star clusters, and ethereal nebulae. Let's take a look at some. PS: Some of them can also be spotted with binoculars.
NSA says: In this Hubble image of Caldwell 44, also known as NGC 7479, the tightly wound arms of the barred spiral galaxy create a backward "S" as they spin in a counter-clockwise direction. However, this galaxy, nicknamed the Propeller galaxy, emits a jet of radiation in radio wavelengths that bends in the opposite direction to the stars and dust in the arms of the galaxy. Astronomers think that the radio jet was put into its bizarre backward spin after the Propeller galaxy merged with another galaxy.
NSA says: This beautiful, blushing nebula is unique amongst its counterparts. While many of the nebulae visible in the night sky are emission nebulae — clouds of dust and gas that are hot enough to emit their own radiation and light — Caldwell 4, otherwise known as the Iris Nebula or NGC 7023, is a reflection nebula. This means that its color comes from the scattered light of its central star, which lies nestled in the abundant star fields of the constellation Cepheus. Located some 1,400 light-years away from Earth, the Iris Nebula’s glowing gaseous petals stretch roughly 6 light-years across.
NASA says: Caldwell 5, also known as IC 342, is a spiral galaxy located approximately 11 million light-years from Earth. This sparkling, face-on view of the center of the galaxy displays intertwined tendrils of glowing, rosy dust in spectacular arms that wrap around a brilliant blue core of hot gas and stars. This core is a specific type of region called an H II nucleus — an area of atomic hydrogen that has become ionized.
NASA says: This phantasmagorical sculpture of gas and dust gives one the feeling of observing a series of explosions deep under the surface of a clear body of water. Caldwell 6, also known as NGC 6543 and commonly called the Cat’s Eye Nebula, is as well known as it is enigmatic. Hubble’s stunning image of this remarkable object has garnered fame for both the telescope and the nebula.
NASA says: Caldwell 29, also known as NGC 5005, is a spiral galaxy that likely harbors a supermassive black hole at its heart. The galaxy has a feature called a low-ionization nuclear emission-line region (LINER) nucleus, which means the gas at the center of the galaxy is emitting light at certain wavelengths that indicates a source of energy is removing electrons from the atoms in the gas (“ionizing” it). While a few different energy sources could be responsible for causing this emission, some of the most common are supermassive black holes or star-forming regions containing very hot young stars.
NASA says: The majestic spiral galaxy Caldwell 30, also cataloged as NGC 7331, is often touted as an analog to our own Milky Way, as its size, shape, and mass are similar to our galaxy’s. Caldwell 30’s starry disk is inclined to our line of sight, so long telescopic exposures often result in images that evoke a strong sense of depth. In this Hubble close-up, taken in visible and ultraviolet light using the Wide Field Camera 3, the galaxy’s magnificent spiral arms feature dark, obscuring dust lanes, bright bluish clusters of massive young stars, and the telltale reddish glow of active star-forming regions.
NASA says: The Veil Nebula is one of the most spectacular supernova remnants in the sky, extending 110 light-years across and covering an area of sky six times larger than the full moon. The western section of the Veil is Caldwell 34 (or NGC 6960), while the eastern part is Caldwell 33. The remains of a star — once 20 times as massive as the Sun — that exploded several thousand years ago, the Veil Nebula lies about 2,000 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. It is often referred to as the Cygnus Loop because of its arced shapes.
NASA says: Galaxies consist of a number of different structures, and the particulars of these structures drive the evolution of a given galaxy. One such structure in spiral galaxies like Caldwell 40 (or NGC 3626) is the galactic bulge. This structure is a densely packed region of stars that encompasses the heart of a spiral galaxy. Most galactic bulges host supermassive black holes, with the masses of the black hole and the bulge typically linked (bigger bulges harbor more monstrous black holes).
NASA says: Caldwell 45, or NGC 5248, is a spiral galaxy located in the constellation Boötes, and it is notable for the ring structure around its nucleus. These nuclear rings are characterized by “hot spots” of starburst activity. Starburst regions are sites where stars form at a much higher rate than usual. At a distance of 59 million light-years, the starburst regions in Caldwell 45 are actually some of the nearest to Earth and are less visually obstructed than many others.
NASA says: Caldwell 48, also known as NGC 2775, is a spiral galaxy. This image of Caldwell 48 combines visible, infrared, and ultraviolet observations taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 in 2019. It features the galaxy’s large, yellowish, central bulge filled with old stars, encircled by tightly wound spiral arms decorated by dark dust and clusters of young, blue stars. Astronomers used Hubble to study young stars in the galaxy’s spiral arms to better understand star formation there.
NASA says: This Hubble image shows two galaxies locked in a fateful embrace. Caldwell 60 (NGC 4038) and Caldwell 61 (NGC 4039) are known as the Ringtail or Antennae galaxies. At one time they were normal, sedate spiral galaxies similar to the Milky Way, but this galactic pair has spent the past few hundred million years sparring. This violent clash has ripped stars from their host galaxies to form a streaming arc between the two combatants. Wide-field views of the duo reveal long streamers of stars extending outward into space like a set of antennae, giving the duo their common nickname.
NASA says: Caldwell 77, also cataloged as NGC 5128 and commonly called Centaurus A, is a peculiar elliptical galaxy. Centaurus A is apparently the result of a collision between two otherwise normal galaxies, which led to a fantastic jumble of star clusters and dark, imposing dust lanes. Near the galaxy's center, leftover cosmic debris is steadily being consumed by a central supermassive black hole, making Centaurus A something astronomers call an active galaxy. As in other active galaxies, the black hole’s feeding process generates bursts of radio, X-ray, and gamma-ray light.
NASA says: Like more than two-thirds of the known galaxies in the universe, Caldwell 101 has a spiral shape. It stretches far beyond the edges of this Hubble view, more than 200,000 light-years across in all. Larger than our own Milky Way galaxy, it is one of the relatively few large spiral galaxies in the neighboring universe. Besides its larger size, this galaxy is very similar to the Milky Way. In fact, if there are observers somewhere in this sibling galaxy looking back at the Milky Way, they might see a very similar image — looking at Caldwell 101 is almost like seeing the Milky Way’s reflection in a giant, intergalactic mirror.
NASA says: Caldwell 103 is a treasure of the southern night sky. Also cataloged as NGC 2070 and often called the Tarantula Nebula or 30 Doradus, this chimerical structure is nestled in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy that orbits the Milky Way. This Hubble image has caught the star-forming factory mid-frenzy, as it churns out stars at a furious pace. Individual members range from small, embryonic stars still shrouded in thick cocoons of gas and dust, to stellar behemoths doomed to live fast and die young in ferocious supernova explosions.
NASA says: This stunning image captures a small region on the edge of the inky Coalsack Nebula, or Caldwell 99. Caldwell 99 is a dark nebula — a dense cloud of interstellar dust that completely blocks out visible wavelengths of light from objects behind it. The object at the center of the image is a (much smaller) protoplanetary nebula. The protoplanetary nebula phase is a late stage in the life of a star in which it has ejected a shell of hydrogen gas and is quickly heating up. This stage only lasts for a few thousand years.
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