Just How Good is the “New” Hubble? Let’s Compare

by Nancy Atkinson on September 9, 2009

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Hubble images of the Omega Centauri starfield from 2002, left, and from 2009, right.

Hubble images of the Omega Centauri starfield from 2002, left, and from 2009, right.


“This marks a new beginning for Hubble,” said Ed Weiler, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at today’s press briefing at NASA Headquarters to showcase the images from Hubble following Servicing Mission 4. “The telescope was given an extreme makeover and is now significantly more powerful than ever — well equipped to last well into the next decade.”

But how much more powerful is Hubble? Are there any discernible differences between the old images from Hubble and the new ones released today? You better believe it. Above is the star field of Omega Centauri before (2002) and after (2009).

See more comparisons below.

Butterfly Nebula before and after.  Credit: NASA/Hubble team. Collage by Stuart Atkinson

Butterfly Nebula before and after. Credit: NASA/Hubble team. Collage by Stuart Atkinson


Here’s an earlier image of the Butterfly Nebula (NGC 6302, or the Bug Nebula) with the one released today. (Thanks to Stu Atkinson for the comparison image.)

Scientists at today’s briefing said the new instruments are more sensitive to light and therefore will significantly improve Hubble’s observing efficiency. The space telescope is now able to complete observations in a fraction of the time that was needed with earlier generations of Hubble instruments.

Stephan's Quintet from 2000 (left) and 2009 (right)  Credit:  NASA/ESA Hubble Team

Stephan's Quintet from 2000 (left) and 2009 (right) Credit: NASA/ESA Hubble Team


And here’s Stephan’s Quintet from 2000 (left) and 2009 (right).

Need we say more?

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

tacitus September 9, 2009 at 10:43 AM

Thanks for posting these.

2stepbay September 9, 2009 at 10:58 PM

Amazing images. Looks like scientist are in for another extended round of updating/discarding existing theories about the Universe and its component parts and rules.

Paul Eaton-Jones September 10, 2009 at 12:57 AM

Good grief! Wow! Astonishing! and other expressions of amazment.

ILOVETHESTAR September 10, 2009 at 2:13 AM

I’m glad wiser heads had the HST fixed instead of letting the scope become a ‘meteor’ and crash to Earth. What an improvement!!!!!!

neoguru September 10, 2009 at 10:07 AM

Outstanding! But <==the big butt….
Does this mean my collection of Hubble images is now obsolete?

Hanny September 11, 2009 at 1:00 AM

Wonderful! :D

Torbjorn Larsson OM September 11, 2009 at 1:17 AM

Seems The Hobble For Hubble turned into a charming episode of star trek.

Spoodle58 September 11, 2009 at 7:10 AM

I’m amazed at these images, saw them a few days ago and I’m still amazed.

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