Insanely Detailed Webb Image of the Horsehead Nebula

The NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope has captured the sharpest infrared images to date of one of the most distinctive objects in our skies, the Horsehead Nebula. The observations show a part of the iconic nebula in a whole new light, capturing its complexity with unprecedented spatial resolution. Image Credits: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA, image processing by J.-C. Cuillandre (CEA Paris-Saclay), G. Anselmi, NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI), ESA/Webb, CSA, K. Misselt, M. Zamani (ESA/Webb) LICENCE CC BY 4.0 INT or ESA Standard Licence

Few space images are as iconic as those of the Horsehead Nebula. Its shape makes it instantly recognizable. Over the decades, a number of telescopes have captured its image, turning it into a sort of test case for a telescope’s power.

The JWST has them all beat.

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This Galaxy Hosted One of the Most Powerful Supernovae Ever Seen

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image is of the small galaxy known as UGC 5189A. This otherwise unremarkable galaxy was the site of an extraordinarly luminous supernova in 2010. ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Filippenko

In 2010, an exceptionally luminous supernova exploded in a small galaxy about 150 million light-years away called UGC 5189A. The Hubble Space Telescope has kept its eye on this galaxy because of the extraordinary supernova, which for three years released more than 2.5 billion times the energy of our Sun in visible light alone.

Though the supernova, named SN 2010jl, died down years ago, astronomers are still watching its aftermath.

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Astronomers Have Been Watching a Supernova’s Debris Cloud Expand for Decades with Hubble

This is a Hubble image of a very small region of the Cygnus Loop, a supernova remnant. The image shows a small part of the leading edge of the expanding bubble. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Ravi Sankrit (STScI)

Twenty thousand years ago, a star in the constellation Cygnus went supernova. Like all supernovae, the explosion released a staggering amount of energy. The explosion sent a powerful shockwave into the surrounding space at half a million miles per hour, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

For twenty years, the Hubble Space Telescope has been watching some of the action.

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A new Hubble Image Reveals a Shredded Star in a Nearby Galaxy

The latest composite image of supernova remnant DEM L 190, released in November 2022. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, S. Kulkarni, Y. Chu

The Hubble Space Telescope, to which we owe our current estimates for the age of the universe and the first detection of organic matter on an exoplanet, is very much doing science and still alive. It’s latest masterpiece remixes an old hit – apparently a growing trend in space science as well as space music.

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Here are Hubble’s 2021 Photos of the Outer Solar System

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has completed its annual grand tour of the outer Solar System for 2021. This is the realm of the giant planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune — extending as far as 30 times the distance between Earth and the Sun. Unlike the rocky terrestrial planets like Earth and Mars that huddle close to the Sun’s warmth, these far-flung worlds are mostly composed of chilly gaseous soups of hydrogen, helium, ammonia, and methane around a packed, intensely hot, compact core. Note: The planets are not shown to scale in this image. Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), and M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley) and the OPAL team

If we had to rely solely on spacecraft to learn about the outer planets, we wouldn’t be making great progress. It takes a massive effort to get a spacecraft to the outer Solar System. But thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope, we can keep tabs on the gas giants without leaving Earth’s orbit.

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Quick Action Let Hubble Watch the Earliest Stages of an Unfolding Supernova Detonation

Astronomers recently witnessed supernova SN 2020fqv explode inside the interacting Butterfly galaxies, located about 60 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo. Researchers quickly trained NASA's Hubble Space Telescope on the aftermath. Along with other space- and ground-based telescopes, Hubble delivered a ringside seat to the first moments of the ill-fated star's demise, giving a comprehensive view of a supernova in the very earliest stage of exploding. Hubble probed the material very close to the supernova that was ejected by the star in the last year of its life. These observations allowed researchers to understand what was happening to the star just before it died, and may provide astronomers with an early warning system for other stars on the brink of death. Credits: NASA, ESA, Ryan Foley (UC Santa Cruz); Image Processing: Joseph DePasquale (STScI)

If it weren’t for supernova remnants we wouldn’t have much knowledge of supernovae themselves. If a supernova explosion is the end of a star’s life, then we can also thank forensic astrophysics for much of our knowledge. The massive exploding stars leave behind brilliant and mesmerizing evidence of their catastrophic ends, and much of what we know about supernovae comes from studying the remnants rather than the explosions themselves. Supernova remnants like the Crab Nebula and SN 1604 (Kepler’s Supernova) are some of our most-studied objects.

Observing an active supernova in the grip of its own destruction can be difficult. But it looks like the Hubble Space Telescope is up to the task.

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Uh oh, Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 is Down

On January 8, 2019, the Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope suspended operations due to a hardware problem. Image Credit: NASA/STScI.
On January 8, 2019, the Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope suspended operations due to a hardware problem. Image Credit: NASA/STScI.

On January 8th, an important piece of equipment on the Hubble Space Telescope went down. The Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) suspended its operations because of a hardware. The Hubble team is investigating the anomaly, and during this time the space telescope’s other instruments are working normally and continuing their science operations.

The WFC3 was installed on the Hubble in 2009. It replaced the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2). The WFC3 is the most technologically advanced instrument on the Hubble, and it has captured some of the most stunning and famous images ever captured.

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Hubble Studies Dark Matter Filament in 3-D

Hubble’s view of massive galaxy cluster MACS J0717.5+3745. The large field of view is a combination of 18 separate Hubble images. Credit:
NASA, ESA, Harald Ebeling (University of Hawaii at Manoa) & Jean-Paul Kneib (LAM)

Earlier this year, astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope were able to identify a slim filament of dark matter that appeared to be binding a pair of distant galaxies together. Now, another filament has been found, and scientists a have been able to produce a 3-D view of the filament, the first time ever that the difficult-to-detect dark matter has been able to be measured in such detail. Their results suggest the filament has a high mass and, the researchers say, that if these measurements are representative of the rest of the Universe, then these structures may contain more than half of all the mass in the Universe.

Dark matter is thought to have been part of the Universe from the very beginning, a leftover from the Big Bang that created the backbone for the large-scale structure of the Universe.

“Filaments of the cosmic web are hugely extended and very diffuse, which makes them extremely difficult to detect, let alone study in 3D,” said Mathilde Jauzac, from Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille in France and University of KwaZulu-Natal, in South Africa, lead author of the study.

The team combined high resolution images of the region around the massive galaxy cluster MACS J0717.5+3745 (or MACS J0717 for short) – one of the most massive galaxy clusters known — and found the filament extends about 60 million light-years out from the cluster.

The team said their observations provide the first direct glimpse of the shape of the scaffolding that gives the Universe its structure. They used Hubble, NAOJ’s Subaru Telescope and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, with spectroscopic data on the galaxies within it from the WM Keck Observatory and the Gemini Observatory. Analyzing these observations together gives a complete view of the shape of the filament as it extends out from the galaxy cluster almost along our line of sight.

The team detailed their “recipe” for studying the vast but diffuse filament. .

First ingredient: A promising target. Theories of cosmic evolution suggest that galaxy clusters form where filaments of the cosmic web meet, with the filaments slowly funnelling matter into the clusters. “From our earlier work on MACS J0717, we knew that this cluster is actively growing, and thus a prime target for a detailed study of the cosmic web,” explains co-author Harald Ebeling (University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA), who led the team that discovered MACS J0717 almost a decade ago.

Second ingredient: Advanced gravitational lensing techniques. Albert Einstein’s famous theory of general relativity says that the path of light is bent when it passes through or near objects with a large mass. Filaments of the cosmic web are largely made up of dark matter [2] which cannot be seen directly, but their mass is enough to bend the light and distort the images of galaxies in the background, in a process called gravitational lensing. The team has developed new tools to convert the image distortions into a mass map.

Third ingredient: High resolution images. Gravitational lensing is a subtle phenomenon, and studying it needs detailed images. Hubble observations let the team study the precise deformation in the shapes of numerous lensed galaxies. This in turn reveals where the hidden dark matter filament is located. “The challenge,” explains co-author Jean-Paul Kneib (LAM, France), “was to find a model of the cluster’s shape which fitted all the lensing features that we observed.”

Finally: Measurements of distances and motions. Hubble’s observations of the cluster give the best two-dimensional map yet of a filament, but to see its shape in 3D required additional observations. Colour images [3], as well as galaxy velocities measured with spectrometers [4], using data from the Subaru, CFHT, WM Keck, and Gemini North telescopes (all on Mauna Kea, Hawaii), allowed the team to locate thousands of galaxies within the filament and to detect the motions of many of them.

A model that combined positional and velocity information for all these galaxies was constructed and this then revealed the 3D shape and orientation of the filamentary structure. As a result, the team was able to measure the true properties of this elusive filamentary structure without the uncertainties and biases that come from projecting the structure onto two dimensions, as is common in such analyses.

The results obtained push the limits of predictions made by theoretical work and numerical simulations of the cosmic web. With a length of at least 60 million light-years, the MACS J0717 filament is extreme even on astronomical scales. And if its mass content as measured by the team can be taken to be representative of filaments near giant clusters, then these diffuse links between the nodes of the cosmic web may contain even more mass (in the form of dark matter) than theorists predicted.

More info in this ESA HubbleCast video:

Source: ESA Hubble

Hubble Goes to the eXtreme in Stunning New Deepest View Ever of the Universe

This image, called the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF), combines Hubble observations taken over the past decade of a small patch of sky in the constellation of Fornax. With a total of over two million seconds of exposure time, it is the deepest image of the Universe ever made, combining data from previous images including the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (taken in 2002 and 2003) and Hubble Ultra Deep Field Infrared (2009). The image covers an area less than a tenth of the width of the full Moon, making it just a 30 millionth of the whole sky. Yet even in this tiny fraction of the sky, the long exposure reveals about 5500 galaxies, some of them so distant that we see them when the Universe was less than 5% of its current age. The Hubble eXtreme Deep Field image contains several of the most distant objects ever identified. Credit: NASA

The Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) combines Hubble observations taken over the past decade of a small patch of sky in the constellation of Fornax. With a total of over two million seconds of exposure time, it is the deepest image of the Universe ever made. Credit: credit: NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (Leiden University), and the HUDF09 Team

Oh my! The Hubble Space Telescope has just outdone itself, taking the deepest-ever view of the Universe. But the new image really is a compilation of work over the past ten years, as the eXtreme Deep Field, or XDF was assembled by combining ten years of observations, with over 2 million seconds of exposure time, taken of a patch of sky in the center of the original Hubble Ultra Deep Field from 2004. The XDF is a small fraction of the angular diameter of the full Moon.

The new full-color XDF image is even more sensitive than the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image from 2004 and the original Hubble Deep Field image from 1995. The new XDF image contains about 5,500 galaxies, even within its smaller field of view. The faintest galaxies are one ten-billionth the brightness that the unaided human eye can see.
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Can You Find a Hubble Hidden Treasure?

Visible in the constellation of Andromeda, NGC 891 is located approximately 30 million light-years away from Earth. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA


Just look at the kind of stunning images that are buried in the archives from the Hubble Space Telescope! Here, Hubble turned its powerful wide field Advanced Camera for Surveys towards this spiral galaxy and took this close-up of its northern half. The entire galaxy, called NGC 891, stretches across 100,000 light-years and we see it exactly edge-on. Visible are filaments of dust and gas escaping the plane of the galaxy. A few foreground stars from the Milky Way shine brightly in the image, while distant elliptical galaxies can be seen in the lower right of the image.

This is just an example of the hidden gems in Hubble’s archives that have never been seen by the general public. There’s a new contest to find more — so how can you participate?

The HST has made over one million observations during its more than two decades in orbit. New images are published nearly every week, but hidden in Hubble’s huge data archives are some truly breathtaking images that have never been seen. They’re called Hubble’s Hidden Treasures, and between now and May 31, 2012, ESA invites you to help bring them to light. Just explore the Hubble Legacy Archive (HLA), and dig out a great dataset, adjust the contrast and colors using the simple online tools, and submit to the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Contest Flickr group. For more information about the competition, visit the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures webpage.

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) also conducted a similar ‘treasure hunt’ with great results

This image was found by contestant Nick Rose.