September 10, 2009 Leave a comment
Astronomers declared NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope a fully rejuvenated observatory with the release Wednesday of observations from four of its six operating science instruments. Maryland senator Barbara A. Mikulski, unveiled the images at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
Topping the list of new views are colorful, multi-wavelength pictures of far-flung galaxies, a densely packed star cluster, an eerie “pillar of creation,” and a “butterfly” nebula. Hubble’s suite of new instruments allows it to study the universe across a wide swath of the light spectrum, from ultraviolet all the way to near-infrared. In addition, scientists released spectroscopic observations that slice across billions of light-years to probe the cosmic-web structure of the universe and map the distribution of elements that are fundamental to life as we know it.
The telescope was given an extreme makeover during the summer and the new instruments are more sensitive to light and improve Hubble’s observing efficiency significantly. It is now able to complete observations in a fraction of the time that was needed with prior generations of Hubble instruments. The space observatory today is significantly more powerful than it ever has been.
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency.