“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.
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.
And here’s Stephan’s Quintet from 2000 (left) and 2009 (right).
Need we say more?
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.