An Epic Collaboration Between Hubble and JWST

This panchromatic view of galaxy cluster MACS0416 was created by combining infrared observations from the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope with visible-light data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI

In 2012, as part of the MAssive Cluster Survey (MACS), the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) discovered a pair of colliding galaxy clusters (MACS0416) that will eventually combine to form an even bigger cluster. Located about 4.3 billion light-years from Earth, the MACS0416 cluster contains multiple gravitational lenses that allow astronomers to look back in time and view galaxies as they appeared when the Universe was young. In a new collaboration that symbolizes the passing of the torch, the venerable Hubble and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) teamed up to conduct an extremely detailed study of MACS0416.

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Jupiter Looks Bizarre in Hubble's New Ultraviolet Image

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope reveals an ultraviolet view of Jupiter. NASA, ESA, and M. Wong (University of California - Berkeley); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

Jupiter has gone pastel!

Check out this ultra-cool image of Jupiter taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. This is a color composite picture of Jupiter seen in ultraviolet, which reveals different features in Jupiter’s atmosphere. One feature that stands out is Jupiter’s Great Red Spot — it is blue in this image!

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The Hubble Imaged Some Globular Clusters in an Unusual Place: Near the Milky Way’s Centre

Most globular clusters are found in the Milky Way's halo. But some, like the glittering globular cluster Terzan 12, are near the galactic centre. Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Cohen (Rutgers University)

Our galaxy has about 200 Globular Clusters (GCs,) and most of them are in the galaxy’s halo. Astronomers think most GCs were taken from dwarf galaxies and merged with the Milky Way due to the galaxy’s powerful gravity. That explains why so many of them are on the outskirts of the galaxy. But they’re not all in the halo. Some are towards the Milky Way’s galactic bulge. What are globular clusters doing there?

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JWST Plucks One Single Star out of a Galaxy Seen 12.5 Billion Years Ago

The massive gravity of galaxy cluster MACS0647 acts as a cosmic lens to bend and magnify light from the more distant MACS0647-JD system. Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI

After years of build-up and anticipation, the James Webb Space Telescope finally launched into orbit on December 25th, 2021 (what a Christmas present, huh?). Since then, the stunning images and data it has returned have proven beyond a doubt that it was the best Christmas present ever! After its first year of operations, the JWST has lived up to one of its primary objectives: to observe the first stars and galaxies that populated the Universe. The next-generation observatory has accomplished that by setting new distance records and revealing galaxies that existed less than 1 billion years after the Big Bang!

These studies are essential to charting the evolution of the cosmos and resolving issues with our cosmological models, like the Hubble Tension and the mysteries of Dark Matter and Dark Energy. Well, hang onto your hats because things have reached a new level of awesome! In a recent study, an international team of scientists isolated a well-magnified star candidate in a galaxy that appears as it was almost 12.5 billion years ago. The detection of a star that existed when the Universe was only ~1.2 billion years old showcases the abilities of the JWST and offers a preview of what’s to come!

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Neptune's Cloud Cover is Linked to the Solar Cycle

This sequence of Hubble Space Telescope images chronicles the waxing and waning of the amount of cloud cover on Neptune. Credits: NASA, ESA, Erandi Chavez (UC Berkeley), Imke de Pater (UC Berkeley)

Whenever Neptune reaches its closest point in the sky to Earth, its portrait is taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and other ground-based observatories. Watching the planet from 1994 to 2020, astronomers have made puzzling discovery.

The clouds in Neptune’s atmosphere appear to be to be linked to the solar cycle and not the planet’s cycle of seasons. The global cloud cover seems to come and go in a cycle that apparently syncs up with the Sun’s 11-year cycle, as it shifts from solar maximum to solar minimum or vice versa. This is surprising since Neptune is so far from the Sun and receives about 0.1% of Earth’s sunlight.

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DART Impact Ejected 37 Giant Boulders from Asteroid Dimorphos’ Surface

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of the asteroid Dimorphos was taken on 19 December 2022, nearly four months after the asteroid was impacted by NASA’s DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission. Hubble’s sensitivity reveals a few dozen boulders knocked off the asteroid by the force of the collision. These are among the faintest objects Hubble has ever photographed inside the Solar System. Credit: NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (UCLA).

When the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft intentionally slammed into asteroid moonlet Dimorphos on September 26, 2022, telescopes around the world and those in space watched as it happened, and continued to monitor the aftermath.

Of course, the Hubble Space Telescope was focused on the event. In looking at Hubble’s images and data from post-impact, astronomers discovered 37 boulders that were ejected due to the impact. These boulders range in size from 1 meter (3 feet) to 6.7 meters (22 feet).

However, these boulders were not debris created by the spacecraft’s impact. Instead, they were boulders that were already on the surface of Dimorphos, and the impact event “shook” the boulders loose. A team of astronomers, led by David Jewitt and Yoonyoung Kim say in their paper detailing the findings that these boulders are some of the faintest objects ever imaged in the Solar System, only visible because of Hubble’s keen sensitivity. The images here showing the boulders surrounding Dimorphos were taken on December 19, 2022.

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Gaze at a Nearby Actively Feeding Supermassive Black Hole

This Hubble image shows the central region of NGC 4395. The image uses data from Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. Credits: NASA, ESA, S. Larsen (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen) and E. Sabbi (STScI); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

Astronomers recently shared a new image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope of the galaxy NGC 4395. This relatively diffuse and dim dwarf galaxy is located just 14 million light-years from Earth.

NGC 4395 has several oddities, and this new image zooms in on the galaxy’s central region to highlight just one of those quirks. NGC 4395 is different from other dwarf galaxies because it contains an actively feeding supermassive black hole at its center.

But this black hole is considered one of the lowest mass supermassive holes ever detected, an oxymoron if there ever was one.  

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It's Time For Your Annual Weather Update for the Outer Solar System

Jupiter, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope in November 2022 and January 2023. Credits: NASA, ESA, STScI, Amy Simon (NASA-GSFC), and Michael H. Wong (UC Berkeley); Image Processing: Joseph DePasquale (STScI).

A couple times a year, the Hubble Space Telescope turns its powerful gaze on the giant planets in the outer Solar System, studying their cloudtops and weather systems. With the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) Program, Hubble provides us with these views and also delivers weather reports on what’s happening. Here’s an updated report and some new images of the stormy surfaces of Jupiter and Uranus.  

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Humans Can Still Find Galaxies That Machine Learning Algorithms Miss

Right in the middle of this image lies the newly discovered dwarf galaxy known as Donatiello II, one of three newly discovered galaxies Credit: ESA/Hubble/NASA/B. Mutlu-Pakdil; Acknowledgement: G. Donatiello

The age of big data is upon us, and there are scarcely any fields of scientific research that are not affected. Take astronomy, for example. Thanks to cutting-edge instruments, software, and data-sharing, observatories worldwide are accumulating hundreds of terabytes in a single day and between 100 to 200 Petabytes a year. Once next-generation telescopes become operational, astronomy will likely enter the “exabyte era,” where 1018 bytes (one quintillion) of data are obtained annually. To keep up with this volume, astronomers are turning to machine learning and AI to handle the job of analysis.

While AI plays a growing role in data analysis, there are some instances where citizen astronomers are proving more capable. While examining data collected by the Dark Energy Survey (DES), amateur astronomer Giuseppe Donatiello discovered three faint galaxies that a machine-learning algorithm had apparently missed. These galaxies, all satellites of the Sculptor Galaxy (NGC 253), are now named Donatello II, III, and IV, in his honor. In this day of data-driven research, it’s good to know that sometimes there’s no substitute for human eyeballs and intellect.

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Beautiful New Hubble Photo Shows Hot, Young Variable Stars in the Orion Nebula

The bright variable star V 372 Orionis takes centre stage in this image from the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Bally, M. Robberto.

Here’s another striking image from the venerable Hubble Space Telescope. These billows of blue and red show a detailed look at a small portion of the famous Orion Nebula. But what really catches the eye are the brilliant stars with the cross-shaped diffraction spikes — a hallmark of Hubble images.

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