Hubble captures fireworks

How a theist can look at all the fantastic images Hubble has offered humanity and somehow not feel insignificant in the Universe is one of the greatest feats of arrogance there is.

This gorgeous star cluster doesn’t need a holiday to set off fireworks. Officially called NGC 3603, the small community of young stars is located about 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina.

Ultraviolet radiation and violent stellar winds from the cluster’s stars shoved away the cloud of gas and dust in which the stars formed, giving the Hubble Space Telescope’s new Wide Field Camera 3 a clear view. Hubble captured this image in August 2009 and December 2009, just a few months after the new camera was installed, in both visible and infrared light. The image shows a sharper view of the stars than an earlier image taken with Hubble’s NICMOS infrared camera in 2007, and traces sources of sulfur, hydrogen and iron.

Most of the stars in the cluster were born around the same time, but age differently depending on their masses. Clusters like NGC 3603 give astronomers a lab to study stars’ life cycles in detail, as well as a window into the origin of massive star formation in the distant universe. NGC 3603’s stars are among the most massive known. After they burn through their fuel, these stars will end their lives in spectacular supernova explosions.

Via Wired.

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Hubble gazes deeper than ever

Since being recently serviced, Hubble has taken one of the most stunning and deep images yet.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has made the deepest image of the universe ever taken in near-infrared light. The faintest and reddest objects in the image are galaxies that formed 600 million years after the Big Bang. No galaxies have been seen before at such early times. The new deep view also provides insights into how galaxies grew in their formative years early in the universe’s history.

Sorry for the graphics. I wanted to post the largest version I could find and this was it. An even larger image is available here.

Thank you, Hubble

So it hasn’t escaped my notice that my hit count has been treading absurdly high in the past couple of days. And it equally hasn’t been missed that most of the views are devoted to my Hubble contest post. Well, it turns out I’m a bit late, but the reason is that NASA has released new images since Hubble’s last repair.

“Hubble is back in action. Together, NASA and Hubble are opening new vistas on the universe,” astronomer and frequent Hubble user Heidi Hammel said.

With the obligatory quote out of the way, let’s get to what everyone wants: the photos.

NGC 6302, Butterfly Nebula

NGC 6302, Butterfly Nebula

 Hickson Compact Group 92, Stephan’s Quintet

Hickson Compact Group 92, Stephan’s Quintet

Abell 37

Abell 37

NGC 6217

NGC 6217