Hubble shows off galactic friends for 27th birthday celebration

21 Apr 20172 Shares

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Hubble images of spiral galaxies NGC 4302 (left) and NGC 4298 (right) in visible and infrared light. Image: NASA, ESA, and M Mutchler (STScI)

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Hubble has been monitoring space for 27 years now, and its latest anniversary is celebrated with an image of two close friends.

A joint mission between ESA and NASA, the Hubble Space Telescope’s birthday is marked each year with one particularly spectacular image.

Launched aboard Discovery in April 1990 and deployed into low-Earth orbit, Hubble’s positioning outside of our planet’s atmosphere allows for stunning views.

Over the past 27 years, the space telescope’s breakthrough discoveries have revolutionised the fields of astronomy and astrophysics.

This year’s anniversary image features a pair of spiral galaxies known as NGC 4302 and NGC 4298, each located 55m light years away.

Hubble images of spiral galaxies NGC 4302 (left) and NGC 4298 (right) in visible and infrared light. Image: NASA, ESA, and M. Mutchler (STScI)

Hubble images of spiral galaxies NGC 4302 (left) and NGC 4298 (right) in visible and infrared light. Image: NASA, ESA, and M Mutchler (STScI). Click to enlarge.

Hubble

Situated in the northern constellation of Coma Berenices (Berenices’ Hair), the pair were first discovered by astronomer William Herschel in 1784.

Despite appearing markedly different, they are actually quite similarly laid out – it’s our perspective that portrays a difference.

According to NASA, in NGC 4298, the tell-tale, pinwheel-like structure is visible, but it’s not as prominent as in some other spiral galaxies.

In NGC 4302, dust in the disc is silhouetted against rich lanes of stars. Absorption by dust makes the galaxy appear darker and redder than its companion. A large blue patch appears to be a giant region of recent star formation.

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Image: NASA, ESA, and G Bacon, J DePasquale, and Z Levay (STScI)

Hubble’s impact on science has proved overwhelming since its birth. In 2011, Hubble became the first Earth-based telescope to snap an image of the Uranus auroras, with two subsequent studies, led by an astronomer from Paris Observatory, revealing just how spectacular an event they are.

A composite image of Uranus by Voyager 2, and two different observations made by Hubble — one for the ring and one for the auroras. Image: ESA/Hubble and NASA, L Lamy/Observatoire de Paris

A composite image of Uranus by Voyager 2, and two different observations made by Hubble — one for the ring and one for the auroras. Image: ESA/Hubble and NASA, L Lamy/Paris Observatory

Earlier this year, Hubble checked out the Calabash Nebula, otherwise known as the Rotten Egg Nebula. According to NASA, the image shows a “spectacular example” of the death of a low-mass star.

The Calabash Nebula, otherwise known as the Rotten Egg Nebula. Its technical name is OH 231.8+04.2. Image: ESA/Hubble and NASA.

The Calabash Nebula, otherwise known as the Rotten Egg Nebula. Its technical name is OH 231.8+04.2. Image: ESA/Hubble and NASA

Last year, Siliconrepublic.com celebrated Hubble’s 26th birthday by looking through some of the mission’s best images.

These included:

One of the largest panoramic images ever taken with Hubble's cameras. It is a 50-light-year-wide view of the central region of the Carina Nebula where a maelstrom of star birth – and death – is taking place. Image: NASA, ESA, Z. Levay (STScI)

One of the largest panoramic images ever taken with Hubble’s cameras. It is a 50-light-year-wide view of the central region of the Carina Nebula where a maelstrom of star birth – and death – is taking place. Image: NASA, ESA, Z Levay (STScI)

The rich tapestry of the Horsehead Nebula pops out against the backdrop of Milky Way stars and distant galaxies that are easily seen in infrared light. Image: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

The rich tapestry of the Horsehead Nebula pops out against the backdrop of Milky Way stars and distant galaxies that are easily seen in infrared light. Image: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

66

DAYS

4

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26

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Get your early bird tickets now!

Gordon Hunt is a journalist at Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com