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The ACS was causes its star to wobble. Hubble found the oldest planet so far known: it orbits a tiny stellar husk, which was once a blazing star like the Sun, and is located 5, light years used on 22 March to take the away.

New NASA Hubble Image Reveals Details in the Heart of the Trifid Nebula

The planet was once like Jupiter and is around 13 billion years old, almost three visible-light image. The first detection of an atmosphere around an extrasolar planet was also made in this object. The presence of sodium as well as evaporating hydrogen, oxygen and carbon was detected in light filtered through the planet's atmosphere as it passed in front of the star.

Measuring the chemical makeup of extra-solar planetary atmospheres will one day allow us to search for the markers of life beyond Earth. All living things breathe and this changes the composition of the atmosphere in readily detectable ways. Astronomers believe there are many planetary systems similar to ours orbiting other stars throughout the Galaxy. The birth, life, death and rebirth of stars continues in an unending cycle in which stars, born of gas and dust, will shine for millions or billions of years, die and return as gas and dust to form new stars.

The by-products of this contin- ual process include planets and the chemical elements that make life possible. And so, through the entire vastness of space, the eternal ebb and flow of life continues. Hubble's spectrometer STIS has been used to detect — for the first time — the signature of the giant planet's atmosphere evaporating off into space. Astronomers call HD b a 'hot Jupiter' because it orbits much closer to its star than our own planet of that name.

Some are more massive — living relatively brief and oxygen blue and sulphur red , shows a small region within the spectacularly brilliant lives; some are less so and can live longer than the star-forming Omega or Swan nebula. The wave-like patterns of present age of the Universe. Stars are chemical factories, constructing the gas have been sculpted and illuminated by a torrent of elements from which we and the Earth are made: most of the atoms in ultraviolet radiation from young, massive stars that lie outside the the newly-formed Universe were hydrogen and helium and the stars had picture to the upper right.

Hester Arizona State University Caption caption caption caption caption caption. Caption caption caption caption caption caption. A totally unexceptional This image, taken with WFPC2 in star, just like billions of others that we can find throughout the Galaxy. It forms out of a cloud of gas compressed by gravity and recognised icon. Part of M16, the releases energy steadily, throughout its life, because a chain of nuclear reactions is Eagle nebula, these Evaporating continuously taking place in its core. Most stars combine hydrogen atoms to form helium through the process called nuclear fusion; the same process that powers a Gaseous Globules EGGs are devastating hydrogen bomb.

In fact, stars are nuclear factories that convert lighter protrusions of cool, dusty, elements into heavier elements in a series of fusion reactions. But how can we be certain of this picture when an tenuous material excited by young, individual star like the Sun outlives humans by a factor of a few hundred million?


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Instead, we can observe many of the organisms at once. This will show us all the different phases of its life cycle. And so it is with stars. Stars live and die over millions, or even billions, of years. Even the most reckless stars live for at least one million years; longer than the entire history of mankind! And this is why it is extremely unusual to be able to track age-related changes in individual stars.

To learn more about stars, we must sample different stars at every stage of life and piece together the whole cycle from birth to death. Hubble has gone beyond what can be achieved with other observatories by linking together studies of the births, lives and deaths of individual stars with theories of stellar evolution. These are crucial data that allow us to extend our understanding of the Milky Way to other galaxies. Cosmic recycling Lighter elements such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, silicon are made as a result of fusion reactions taking place in stars. The heavier elements, however, are built during the cataclysmic stellar explosions we know as supernovae.

When the Universe was very young — before any stars and galaxies had formed — hydrogen and helium were overwhelmingly its dominant atomic constituents. Supernovae have already detonated in this huge star- forming region and the resulting blast waves have compressed the gas into filaments and sheets. This mosaic of images was created using Hubble archival data by 23 year old amateur astronomer, Danny LaCrue. It was constructed from 15 individual exposures taken through three narrow-band filters.

The richly detailed tapestry revealed by Hubble shows a churning, turbulent star factory set within a maelstrom of flowing, luminescent gas. Though this 2. There are stars forming throughout the Universe. Enormous glowing pillars of dusty hydrogen gas stand sentinel over their cradles, basking in the light of nearby, newly- formed stars.

Here we are actually seeing the creation of new solar systems where planets will eventually form; just as they did in our own Solar System four and a half billion years ago. In the first stages of their lives, stars can stock up on gas from their original birth cloud. Often many stars are born from the same cloud of gas and dust.

Some may stay together through their whole lifetime, keeping step as they evolve, like the childhood friends that you keep for life. Proto-Solar Systems? Even that small amount of dust is enough to make the disks opaque and dark at visible wavelengths. These dark disks are seen here because they are silhouetted against the bright backdrop of the hot gas of the Orion nebula. The picture is dominated by a large, approximately circular feature, which is part of the Keyhole Nebula, named in the 19th century by Sir John Herschel.

This region, about light-years from Earth, is located adjacent to the famous explosive variable star Eta Carinae, which lies just outside the field of view toward the upper right. The Carina Nebula also contains several other stars that are among the hottest and most massive known, each about 10 times as hot, and times as massive, as our Sun.

Human existence is the mere blink of an eye compared with the life of a star The stars in a cluster will all have the same age, but will have a range of different masses. And this means that very different destinies await them. Hubble uses its stability and exceptionally sharp focus to Young star's jet This view of a 5 trillion kilometre long jet called HH reveals a very complicated jet pattern which indicates the star hidden inside a dust cloud near the left edge of the image might be wobbling, possibly caused by the gravitational pull of a companion star.

From the ground it is usually not possible to see this kind of evolution taking place over such short periods. In the Universe, this sort of action normally takes place on timescales of many thousands or even millions of years, so being able to follow real time changes in astronomical objects is a considerable asset. At the other extreme of the stellar life cycle, Hubble has monitored Supernova A since , four years after it exploded.

The result is a series of stunning observations that show the evolution following the violent explosion witnessed nearly two decades ago. The regular monitoring of an even older supernova remnant, the Crab Nebula, has enabled Hubble to capture the display of matter and antimatter particles propelled close to lightspeed by the Crab pulsar, a rapidly rotating neutron star.

Thanks to Hubble, scientists can directly follow the motion of the gas remnant left behind by the super- nova explosion witnessed by Chinese astronomers in Not all elderly stars end their lives as supernovae and Hubble has followed the final stages of their lives, with their very different outcomes.

One such elderly star V Monocerotis, located about 20, light-years from Earth put out a brief flash of energy that illuminated the surrounding dust. The progress of the light echo across the dust was captured by Hubble in a film-like sequence of unprecedented clarity. The stars containing the most mass end their lives cataclysmically, destroying them- selves in titanic stellar explosions known as supernovae. For a few glorious months, each becomes one of the brightest objects in the entire Universe, outshining all the other stars in its parent galaxy.

Since its launch in , Hubble has watched the drama unfold in Supernova A, the nearest exploding star in modern times. The telescope has been monitoring a ring of gas surrounding the supernova blast. Hubble has observed the appearance of bright spots along the ring, like gemstones on a necklace.

The ruins of an exploding star can hide a powerful engine. Hubble has probed the mysterious heart of the Crab Nebula, the tattered remains of an exploding star, vividly described by Chinese astronomers in , and has revealed its dynamic centre.

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The innermost region of this nebula harbours a special type of star, a pulsar. This star rotates like a beacon, emitting light and energy in a beam. And it energizes and illuminates the vast nebula of dust and gas surrounding it. Electrons, travelling at speeds close to that of light, spiral around lines of magnetic field and so produce radiation covering the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from X- rays to radio waves.

Hester et al. This is a composite image of the Crab Nebula showing the X-rays blue , and optical red radiation. These produce the illusion of material in rapid motion while, in reality, it is the pulse of light that is moving. Sun-like stars cool down once they run Wide angle view of the enormous out of hydrogen.


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The centre collapses in on itself and the heavier elements are burnt, causing the outer layers to expand and leak slowly into space. At that time, it will expand so much that it will swallow Mercury, Venus and our planet as well. This probably But these stars are not finished quite yet. They can still evolve into something extraordi- happened some 50, to 90, nary.

Just before they breathe their last breath, stars like our Sun go out in a final blaze of glory. In its final stages of nuclear fusion, stellar winds blow from the star, causing the rem- nants of the red giant to swell to an enormous size. At the heart of this expansion, the exposed heart of the star, an intensely hot dwarf, floods the gaseous envelope with powerful ultraviolet light, making it glow in a whole range of beautiful colours. Hubble's close up view of the Cat's Eye Detailed view from Hubble focussing on central regions of the Cat's Eye Nebula seen on the previous page.

Although this nebula was among the first planetary nebula ever to be discovered, it is one of the most complex planetary nebulae ever seen in space. With their gauzy symmetrical wings of gas they resemble butterflies. ESA Since these amazing constructions looked a bit like the newly discovered planet Uranus to early telescopic astronomers, they became known as planetary nebulae. From telescopes on Earth they look like round planet-shaped objects with fairly simple geometries. Hubble's keen perception shows that each planetary nebula is a distinct individual. How a normal Sun-like star evolves from a relatively featureless gas sphere to a nebula with intricate glowing patterns is still one of the unsolved mysteries in astronomy.

Each additional image of the glowing patterns of gas intrigues astronomers anew. From its unique position high above the distorting atmosphere Hubble is the only telescope that can observe the swollen outer envelope of these dying stars in full detail. Hubble has been able to observe the expansion of the nebula itself directly. Colours of Planetary Nebulae The intensely hot stars at the centres of planetary nebulae flood the surrounding volume of gas with ultraviolet light.

This causes the atoms in the gas to lose one or more of their electrons. Like many other so-called planetary nebulae, IC exhibits a high degree of symmetry. The nebula's left and right halves are nearly mirror images of one another. One of the greatest mysteries in modern astrophysics is how a simple, spherical gas ball such as our Sun can give rise to these intricate structures!

For some planetary nebulae it is as if a cosmic garden sprinkler created the jets that stream out in opposite directions; or could these amazing patterns possibly be sculpted by the magnetic field of a companion star that funnels the emitted gas into a jet? Whatever their cause, in only ten thousand years these fleeting cosmic flowers disperse in space. Just as real flowers fertilize their surroundings as they decompose, the chemi- cal elements produced inside the star during its life are dispersed by the planetary nebula to nourish the space around it, providing the raw material for new generations of stars, planets and possibly even life.

Because they disappear so quickly on a cosmic timescale there are never more than about 15, planetary nebulae at any one time in our Milky Way. A more lasting monument to the dead star is the tiny heart it leaves behind. Hubble was the first telescope to observe white dwarfs in globular star clusters directly.

These measurements make it possible to determine the ages of these ancient clusters — a critical cosmological datum for astronomers. NGC is a type of object unknown in our own Milky Way galaxy and is surrounded by a pattern of filamentary nebulosity thought to have been created during supernova blasts. During the long history of the Universe, many filaments of dark dust are the nuclei of twin galaxies.

A wide band galaxies have collided and sometimes merged with one another, but of chaotic dust, called the overlap region, stretches between them. However, the gas and dust drifting in interstellar space show the result of a firestorm of star birth activity that was does interact strongly, producing shocks and triggering firework displays triggered by this monster collision of galaxies.

This is a WFPC2 image of starbirth. Computer simulations of colliding galaxies create a ballet of released in Seen from outside, the Milky Way is a gigantic spiral, consisting of a central hub embraced by long arms. The whole system slowly rotates. The sparkling blue star system, our home, the Solar System. When we look up on a clear night, we can see about of the brightest stars.

Most of these are our closest neighbours, but a few ring is , light-years in are more distant and appear bright because of their great luminosity. So without a telescope we can only see a The galaxy, catalogued as AM minute portion of the entire ,light-year-wide Milky Way. For the Milky Way , is a member of the class of so- contains several hundred billion stars, many like our own Sun! Although several hun- dred thousand million is an almost unfathomable number, it is only the beginning. Ring galaxies Astronomers believe there are more than a hundred billion galaxies in the Universe.

Even so, on an can dramatically change their entire beach there are only just enough grains of sand to represent each star in the structure, while also triggering the Milky Way. There are so many stars in the Universe that we would need to count every formation of new stars. They arise grain of sand on every beach on the entire Earth to get anywhere near the right num- ber!

The ring is continuously forming massive, young, hot stars, which are blue in color. Another sign of robust star formation is the pink regions along the ring. These are rarefied clouds of glowing hydrogen gas, fluorescing because of the strong ultraviolet light from the newly formed massive stars. If we Set against a stunning backdrop of started walking towards the nearest star it would take us the better part of a day to complete the journey because the star would be nearly 30 kilometres away.

If we could squeeze together all streamer of stars appears to be the stars in the Milky Way, they would easily fit into the volume of space between our Sun and the nearest star. In fact, to completely fill that volume, we would have to pack in racing through space, like a all the stars from all the galaxies in the entire Universe!

This is because our life spans are nothing but brief drops in the universal ocean of time. In fact, the Universe is was taken in April by the in constant motion, but we would need to watch for vastly longer than a lifetime to Advanced Camera for Surveys ACS , perceive that motion in the night sky. Stars orbit the centre of the during Servicing Mission 3B. Sometimes they even faint, small background galaxies in collide. Hubble has observed numerous galaxies crashing together. The whirlpool forms, the beginning of time. They have a pastel colours of stellar and nebular light and dark contrasting dust lanes are aestheti- myriad of shapes and represent cally pleasing, but the immense scale in space and time that these vast islands of stars represent also leaves us awestruck.

The intricate patterns in spiral galaxies and espe- early samples of the Universe's cially those systems of galaxies that are apparently interacting evoke a complex dynamic billion-year evolution.

Hubble's pictures alas are just snapshots capturing a single moment in a slow evolution that lasts much longer than our puny human lifetimes. What do the colours of the galaxies mean? Most of the light is coming from shining stars. The relatively rare massive stars are hot and blue and so bright that, in spite of their relatively small numbers, they contribute a substantial part of the total light.

These massive stars are short- lived and are found in stellar nurseries shrouded in gas and dust. The ultraviolet light from them excites the gas and makes it glow brightly in several discrete colours, most notably the red of hydrogen and the green of oxygen. Less massive — and more numerous — stars shine with pastel shades from blue-white to orange-red, depending on their temperature, which in turn depends on their mass.

The palette is completed by the effects of dust. Light shining through the clouds of dust is dimmed and reddened, a little like the setting sun. We generally see this as a rather dirty brown tint associated particularly with the stellar nurseries. Otherwise known as NGC , the pair will eventually merge into a single giant galaxy. Like majestic ships in the grandest night, galaxies can slip ever closer until their mutual gravitational interaction begins to mould them into intricate figures that are finally, and irreversibly, woven together Like majestic ships in the grandest night, galaxies can slip ever closer until their mutual gravitational interaction begins to mould them into intricate figures that are finally, and irreversibly, woven together.

It is an immense cosmic dance, choreographed by gravity. Most of the stars in the galaxies will pass unharmed through the collision. The chance of two stars actually colliding is miniscule, so vast are the distances between them. At worst, gravity will fling them out, along with dust and gas to create long streamers that stretch a hundred thousand light-years or more.

The two galaxies, trapped in their deadly gravitational embrace, will continue to orbit each other, ripping out more gas and stars to add to the tails. Eventually, hundreds of millions of years afterwards, the two galaxies will settle into a single, combined galaxy. It is believed that many present-day galaxies, including the Milky Way, were assembled from such a coalescence of smaller galaxies, occurring over billions of years.

Triggered by the colossal and violent interaction between the galaxies, stars form from large clouds of gas in firework bursts, creating brilliant blue star clusters. Our own Milky Way is on a collision course with the nearest large galaxy, the Andromeda galaxy. They are approaching each other at almost , kilometres per hour and, in three billion years, will collide head-on. The direct collision will lead to a magnificent Andromeda galaxy and the Milky Way collision Seen from the Earth the collision between the Andromeda galaxy and the Milky Way in three billion years will look something like this.

Instead, it will evolve into a huge elliptical galaxy, Universe. Although this will not happen for a very long time, there are other dark forces of nature in play everywhere around us. NGC 's violent history is evident in various ways. The inner regions of the galaxy shown in the Hubble image reveal a complicated system of dust lanes and patches.

These are thought to be the remains of the interstellar medium associated with one or more of the spiral galaxies it swallowed. Scattered around the galaxy, the red star clusters provide clear evidence of a major collision of two spiral galaxies that merged together a few billion years ago. They are found as remnants of massive black hole. Black holes lurk at the centres of active galaxies in stars and, in even more massive versions, at the centres of most — if not environments not unlike those found in violent tornadoes on all — galaxies.

They are fascinating objects with weird properties and Earth. Just as in a tornado, where debris is found spinning about the impose their influence on the surrounding matter and light. The most vortex, so, in a black hole, a dust torus surrounds its waist. In some spectacular manifestations of such supermassive black holes are quasars. Technically results in a brightness that far exceeds the sum of all the hundreds of these objects are then called 'type 1 sources'.

Not even light can escape. So how do we know that they are even there? A lthough the existence of black holes has been hypothesized for more than years, a central tenet of the theory is that a black hole will be impossible to observe directly. X-ray satellites had hinted that black holes existed by detecting the emission of X-rays from superheated gas as it was consumed by the black hole. Then, along came Hubble: its high resolution made it possible to see the gravitational effects on matter surrounding the largest black holes in the Universe.

Hubble has also shown that a black hole is most likely to be present at the centres of most galaxies. Black holes are the enigmatic villains of the Universe: swallowing all that comes their way and allowing nothing to escape from within their gravitational stronghold. There is no way to find out what is in there. Black holes themselves cannot be observed directly. However, astronomers can study the indirect effects of black holes because the one thing they have in abundance is gravity. Astronomers believe that black holes are singularities — simple points in space.

No volume, no extension, but infinitely dense, black holes can be created during the final collapse of a massive star, many times the size of the Sun. The stellar corpse left over from the demise and collapse of a massive star can be so heavy that no force in nature can keep it from crumpling under its own weight into an infinitely small volume. Although the matter has apparently disappeared, having been compacted into nothingness, it still exerts a powerful gravitational pull and stars and other objects that come too close can be pulled in.

Once some- thing — a nearby star say — is pulled in past this point it will never be seen again. On its way towards the event horizon, the doomed star will begin to follow a fatal, spiralling orbit. As the star approaches the black hole still further, the matter closest to the hole feels a greater attraction than the rest of the star, sucking and stretching the star out towards the hole until the immense tidal forces pull it to pieces and devour it.

New models give insight into the heart of the Rosette Nebula

There are quirkier aspects to these objects too, a twisting of space and time that warps and slows even the passage of time. All objects with a mass deform the very fabric of space and time, but black holes do this to an extreme degree. Fine details of the dark band are revealed in this image of the central portion of Messier 64 obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble has found that black holes reside at the centre of most galaxies, such as the Black Eye Galaxy. Perhaps the most curious objects astronomers have hypothesized about are wormholes. Maybe wormholes, if they exist, will some day allow travel between regions in space faster than it would take light to make the journey through normal space.

Hubble has shown that black holes are most likely to be present at the centre of most galaxies. There is one at the centre of our Milky Way — a giant, super- massive black hole, perhaps a million times bigger than those created from the collapse of massive stars. It may have shone much more brightly in the past, making the Galaxy appear very active.

This may happen again in the future: we know that such objects can wax and wane over thousands or millions of years. Our black hole could be the result of the merger of many star-sized black holes that were formed during the remote history of the galaxy. When two galaxies collide, the black holes at each of their centres will perform an elaborate dance. Long after the two galaxies have merged into one, their central black holes continue to orbit each other for hundreds of millions of years before their final violent merger into a single, weighty black hole.

This final process is so powerful that it changes the fabric of spacetime enough that we may be able to observe it from the Earth with a new breed of gravita- tional-wave telescopes or from special spacecraft in orbit. Disks around supermassive black holes Frank C. This Roeland P. A wormhole is essentially a 'shortcut' through spacetime from one point in the Universe to another.

However, compared with the millions of years it takes for galaxies to merge, the final cataclysm at the cores would be relatively brief. So the odds of seeing such an event are small. Until as recently as 50 years ago, astronomers thought the Universe was a mostly peaceful place. But we now know that this is far from reality. Space is often shaken by violent events: cataclysmic explosions of supernovae, collisions of whole galaxies and the tremendous outpouring of energy due to the large amount of matter crashing into black holes.

The discovery of quasars gave us the first clear glimpse of this turmoil. To groundbased telescopes, quasars look like normal stars. However, quasars are in fact much brighter and further away than stars. They can shine more brightly than 1, normal galaxies and are powered by supermassive black holes. Hubble has now observed several quasars and found that each resides at the centre of a galaxy. Today most scientists believe that all quasars are powered by a central, supermassive black hole that may weigh as much as a few billion Solar masses.

Stars that orbit too close are pulled apart, draining into the quasar like water into an enormous cosmic plug-hole. The spiralling gas forms a thick disk, heated to a high temperature by its free-fall motion towards the black hole. The gas blasts its energy into space above and below the disk in colossal jets. Quasars are found in a wide range of galaxies, many of which are violently colliding. There appear to be a variety of mechanisms for igniting quasars. Collisions between pairs of galaxies could trigger the birth of quasars, but Hubble has shown that even apparently normal, undisturbed galaxies harbour quasars.

This means that, from some directions, the quasar is hidden from our direct view and we see the results of its prodigious energy production only indirectly. In this Hubble telescope image, the blue jet contrasts with the yellow glow from the combined light of billions of unseen stars and the yellow, point-like clusters of stars that make up this galaxy.

Lying at the centre of M87, the monstrous black hole has swallowed up matter equal to 2 billion times our Sun's mass. M87 is 50 million light-years from Earth. But quasars are not the only high energy objects astronomers have found. Such impression discoveries have often changed the course of astronomy. Gamma Ray Bursts were Discovered by military satellites discovered serendipitously in the late s by US military satellites that were on the lookout for Soviet nuclear tests.

Instead of finding the most powerful detonations and for many years a complete produced by humans, some of the most powerful blasts in the Universe itself were mystery, Gamma Ray Bursts spotted. With the aid of Hubble these from random directions in the sky. Although Gamma Ray Bursts last only a few seconds, enigmatic sources have now been the energy they release is equal to the amount of energy radiated by our whole Milky Way over a couple of centuries. This artist's impression detect them.

For 30 years, no one knew what caused these bursts. It was like seeing the gamma-ray bullet fly by Earth without ever glimpsing the weapon that fired it. It observed the positions in the sky where gamma ray explosions had been host galaxy. But all efforts were in vain, until, in , Hubble observations were fundamental in determining that these monstrous outbursts take place in far distant galaxies. The cause could be the blast produced in the final cataclysmic collapse of a massive star or the dramatic encounter of two very dense objects, such as two black holes, or a black hole and a neutron star.

Black holes are certainly some of the most exotic objects in the Universe. As well as affecting matter they can also show up in some other spectacular ways because their enormous gravitational fields can also deflect light. In fact, rays of light that pass close to a black hole will not follow straight lines, but will be bent onto new paths, creating a natural telescope that can peer further into space than ever thought possible. He would have been delighted — and staggered — to see General Relativity predicts that sufficiently massive objects such as the stunningly beautiful images taken by Hubble of clusters of galaxies: a cluster of galaxies will deform the structure of space itself so that the largest aggregations of mass in the Universe.

These clusters act as when light passes one of these objects, its path is curved slightly. The galaxy cluster Abell galaxies into arcs and multiple images that can be measured to map the is so heavy that it bends the light from background galaxies into distribution of mass — both luminous and dark — in space. Sometimes, hundreds of gravitational arcs. Those that we see with a modern telescope such as the Hubble Space Telescope do not arise from warm air, but instead from remote clusters of galaxies — huge concentrations of matter.

Long ago some people thought the Earth was flat. But the curvature of space does create phenomena that we can observe. One of Albert Einstein's predictions is that gravity warps space and therefore distorts rays of light, in the same way that ripples on a pond create a warped honeycomb pattern of light on the sandy bottom. Light from distant galaxies is distorted and magnified by the gravitational field of massive galaxy clusters on its path to Earth. The effect is like looking through a giant magnifying glass and the result is called gravitational lensing.

Thus, the background object can appear in several guises. Though Einstein realized in that this effect would happen in space, he thought it could never be observed from Earth. However, in his calculations were indeed proved to be correct. During a solar eclipse expedition to Principe Island near the west coast of Africa, led by the renowned British astronomer Arthur Eddington, the positions of stars around the obscured solar disk were observed. It was found that the stars had moved a small but measurable distance outwards on the sky compared with when the Sun was not in the vicinity.

Nowadays, faint gravitational images of objects in the distant Universe are observed with the best telescopes on Earth and, of course, with the sharp-sighted Hubble. The gravitational lensing results in multiple images of the original galaxy, many with a characteristically distorted, banana- like shape. Hubble was the first telescope to resolve details within the multiple arcs, revealing the form and internal structure of the lensed background objects directly.

If the lens is spherical then the image appears as an Einstein ring in other words as a ring of light top ; if the lens is elongated then the image is an Einstein cross it appears split into four distinct images middle , and if the lens is a galaxy cluster then arcs and arclets banana- shaped images of light are formed bottom. It was taken by Hubble in immediately after Servicing Mission 3A. Acting like a cosmic magnifying glass, the massive cluster produces a myriad arclets: distorted images of much more distant galaxies.

Gravitational lenses have mainly been observed around clusters of galaxies - collections of hundreds or thousands of galaxies. They are Astronomers used Hubble to thought to be the largest gravitationally bound structures in the Universe. Astronomers know that the matter we see in the Universe is just a tiny percentage of the total mass that must be there.

For matter exerts a gravitational force, and the visible This was the first time that anyone material is simply not enough to hold galaxies and clusters of galaxies together.

Our Milky Way Galaxy's Core Revealed (Photos)

On clear images from Hubble one can usually illuminate the young Universe. This process allows astronomers to study the details of galaxies in the young Universe and too far away to be seen with the present technology and telescopes. Such natural gravitational 'telescopes' allow astronomers to see extremely distant and faint objects that would otherwise not be seen. Ellis Caltech was detected in this image. The extremely faint galaxy is so far away that its visible light has been stretched into infrared wavelengths, making the observations particularly difficult.

The galaxy has set a new record in being the most distant known galaxy in the Universe so far. Located an estimated 13 billion light-years away redshift around 7 , the object is being viewed at a time only million years after the Big Bang, when the Universe was barely 5 percent of its current age. In this image the distant galaxy appears as multiple 'images', an arc left and a dot right , as its light is forced along different paths through the cluster's complex clumps of mass the yellow galaxies where the magnification is quite large.

The colours of the differently lensed galaxies in the image depend on their distances and galaxy types. The orange arc is, for instance, an elliptical galaxy at moderate redshift around 0. Light takes time to cross the vastness Myriads of stars embedded in the heart of the nearby galaxy NGC of space, so looking further away means looking back in time. This can be singled out like grains of sand on a beach in this Hubble produces the mind-wrenching idea that Hubble can spend a few hours image.

The telescope's exquisite resolution enables it to see the looking at galaxies as they were in the early history of the Universe. It can stars as individual points of light, despite the fact that the galaxy is then be re-pointed to look during the next few hours at old stars in a millions of light-years away. NGC is a spiral galaxy similar to our nearby galaxy that were formed billions of years ago — at the very same own Milky Way galaxy. It is a member of a nearby group of time as the young galaxies it had just been observing were emitting their galaxies known as the Sculptor group, named after the southern light.

Hubble is being used to sample different historical epochs. By constellation where the group can be found. The distance to NGC observing nearby Cepheid variable stars and distant supernovae it is is 6. At this distance, only the brightest stars can be picked to determine its ultimate fate. L ight may travel through a vacuum at the highest speed anything can ever reach, but it is still a finite speed. This means that it takes a while for rays of light to travel between two points in space. The speed of light through space is about , kilometres per second. So it takes light just over a second to travel from the Moon to the Earth.

When we look at the Moon we see it as it was just over a second ago. The finite speed of light enables us to do the next best thing by allowing us to look back in time. When looking out into space, we just need to wait for the light from distant places to reach us, and it shows us how things were when the light began its journey.

Powerful instruments, like Hubble, have made it possible to look farther out and farther back than ever before. What cosmologists are seeing is simply astounding. In the s, astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered that most galaxies appear to be moving away from us at a rate proportional to their distance. The farther away a galaxy is, the faster it appears to be moving away from us. This is due to the expansion of the Universe. That expansion began in a titanic explosion, called the Big Bang, many billions of years ago.

The rate of expansion holds the key to estimating the age and size of the Universe. This rate is called the Hubble constant. The age and size of the Universe can be estimated by 'running the expansion back- wards' — until everything is compressed into that infinitely small point of energy from which the Universe was generated. The top ranked scientific justification for building Hubble was to determine the size and age of the Universe.

Cepheids have very stable and predictable brightness variations. The period of these variations depends strictly on the physical properties of the star, which can be used to determine their distance very effectively. The Cepheids have been used as reliable stepping-stones to make distance measurements to supernovae, which are much brighter than Cepheids and so The Big Bang — The origin of our can be seen at far greater distances. Universe artist's impression Due to its high resolution, Hubble has measured the light from supernova explosions This event created the time and more accurately than any other instrument.

From the ground an image of a supernova the space within which the usually blends in with the image of its host galaxy. Hubble can clearly distinguish the Universe has evolved over the light from the two sources. The brightness of a Cepheid varies in a very stable and predictable manner that depends on the physical properties of the star such as mass and absolute brightness. This means that astronomers, just by measuring the variation in the light from these stars, can effectively determine their distance.

The magnificent spiral galaxy NGC , seen here, is one of the most distant galaxies in which Cepheids have been observed with Hubble. Cosmologists have called this nightmare scenario, the Big Rip Cepheids and supernovae have given a measure for the scale of the Universe.

Martin got his degree in graphics design in Munich in In those days, computers were not yet the favourite tools of graphic designers and, through the nineties, Martin actively pioneered the exploration of the fascinating and newly emerging world of computer graphics. Skip to main content Skip to table of contents. Advertisement Hide. Hubble 15 Years of Discovery. Front Matter Pages Pages The Hubble Story. Hubble Up Close. Planetary Tales. The Lives of Stars. Cosmic Collisions.

Monsters in Space. Gravitational Illusions. Birth and Death of the Universe. Looking to the end of Time. Hubble Gallery. Martin Kornmesser Martin got his degree in graphics design in Munich in