Top Ten Hubble Photographs

Top Ten Hubble Photographs

       The Hubble Space Telescope is a space telescope that was carried into orbit by a space shuttle in April 1990. It is named after the American astronomer Edwin Hubble. Although not the first space telescope, Hubble is one of the largest and most versatile, and is well-known as both a vital research tool and a public relations boon for astronomy. The HST is a collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency and is one of NASA’s Great Observatories, along with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope. Space telescopes were proposed as early as 1923. Hubble was funded in the 1970’s, with a proposed launch in 1983, but the project was beset by technical delays, budget problems and the Challenger disaster. When finally launched in 1990, scientists found that the main mirror had been ground incorrectly, severely compromising the telescope’s capabilities. However, after a servicing mission in 1993, the telescope was restored to its intended quality. Hubble’s orbit outside the distortion of Earth’s atmosphere allows it to take extremely sharp images with almost no background light. Hubble’s Ultra Deep Field image, for instance, is the most detailed visible-light image ever made of the universe’s most distant objects. Many Hubble observations have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics, such as accurately determining the rate of expansion of the universe. Hubble is the only telescope ever designed to be serviced in space by astronauts. Four servicing missions were performed from 1993–2002, but the 5th was canceled on safety grounds following the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. However, after spirited public discussion, NASA administrator Mike Griffin approved one final servicing mission, completed in 2009. The telescope is now expected to function until at least 2014, when its ‘successor,’ the James Webb Space Telescope, is due to be launched.

  1. The Sombrero Galaxy
    Sombrero GalaxySombrero Galaxy1Sombrero Galaxy2
           The Sombrero Galaxy (also known as M 104 or NGC 4594 ) is an unbarred spiral galaxy in the constellation Virgo. It has a bright nucleus, an unusually large central bulge, and a prominent dust lane in its inclined disk. The dark dust lane and the bulge give this galaxy the appearance of a sombrero. The galaxy has an apparent magnitude of +9.0, making it easily visible with amateur telescopes. The large bulge, the central super massive black hole, and the dust lane all attract the attention of professional astronomers.
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  2. Ant Nebula
           Menzel 3 is a young bipolar planetary nebula in the constellation Norma that is composed of a bright core and four distinct high-velocity outflows that have been named lobes, columns, rays, and chakram. These nebulosities are described as: two spherical bipolar lobes, two outer large filamentary hour-glass shaped columns, two cone shaped rays, and a planar radially expanding, elliptically shaped chakram. Mz 3 is a complex system composed of three nested pairs of bipolar lobes and an equatorial ellipse. Its lobes all share the same axis of symmetry but each have very different morphologies and opening angles. It is an unusual PN in that it is believed, by some researchers, to contain a symbiotic binary at its center. Study suggests that the dense nebular gas at its center may have originated from a source different than that of its extended lobes. The working model to explain this hypothesizes that this PN is composed of a giant companion that caused a central dense gas region to form, and a white dwarf that provides ionizing photons for the PN.
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  3. Hourglass Nebula
           The Engraved Hourglass Nebula (also known as MyCn 18) is a young planetary nebula situated in the southern constellation Musca about 8,000 light-years away from Earth. It was discovered by Annie Jump Cannon and Margaret W. Mayall during their work on an extended Henry Draper Catalogue (1918-1924). At the time, it was designated simply as a small faint planetary nebula. Much improved telescopes and imaging techniques allowed the hourglass shape of the nebula to be discovered by Raghvendra Sahai and John Trauger of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on January 18, 1996. It is conjectured that MyCn 18’s hourglass shape is produced by the expansion of a fast stellar wind within a slowly expanding cloud which is denser near its equator than its poles. The formation of the shape of the inner “eye” is not yet fully understood. The Hourglass Nebula was photographed by the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 of the Hubble Space Telescope. A less-famous “Hourglass Nebula” is located inside the Lagoon Nebula.
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  4. UFO in the Rings of Saturn
    Pictures taken by Voyager 1 in 1980, as well as images taken by the Hubble Telescope, apparently show a very large craft in the rings of Saturn. A book entitled “The Ringmakers of Saturn, by Ames National Laboratory Research Scientist, Norman Bergrun, attempts to address what is going on in the rings. To watch the very insightful interview with Norman Bergrun, click on the link below.
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  5. Cartwheel Galaxy

    The Cartwheel Galaxy (also known as ESO 350-40) is a lenticular galaxy and ring galaxy about 500 million light-years away in the constellation Sculptor. It is an estimated 150,000 light-years across, has a mass of about 2.9–4.8 × 109 solar masses, and rotates at 217 km/s. It was discovered by Fritz Zwicky in 1941. Zwicky considered his discovery to be “one of the most complicated structures awaiting its explanation on the basis of stellar dynamics.” An estimation of the galaxy’s span resulted in a conclusion of 150,000 light years, which is slightly larger than the Milky Way.
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  6. The Antennae Galaxy

           The Antennae Galaxies (also known as NGC 4038/NGC 4039) are a pair of interacting galaxies in the constellation Corvus. They were both discovered by Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel in 1785. Located in the NGC 4038 group with five other galaxies, these two galaxies are known as the ‘Antennae’ because the two long tails of stars, gas and dust thrown out of the galaxies as a result of the collision resemble the antennae of an insect. This is likely the future of our Milky Way when it collides with the Andromeda Galaxy in some two billion years. Two supernovae have been discovered in the galaxy: SN 2004GT and SN 2007sr. A recent study finds that these interacting galaxies are closer to the Milky Way than previously thought, at 45 million light-years instead of 65 million light-years.
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  7. Cat’s Eye Nebula
           The Cat’s Eye Nebula (NGC 6543, Caldwell 6) is a planetary nebula in the constellation of Draco. Structurally, it is one of the most complex nebulae known, with high-resolution Hubble Space Telescope observations revealing remarkable structures such as knots, jets, bubbles and sinewy arc-like features. In the center of the Cat’s Eye there is a bright and hot star; around 1,000 years ago this star lost its outer envelope, producing the nebula. It was discovered by William Herschel on February 15th, 1786, and was the first planetary nebula whose spectrum was investigated by the English amateur astronomer William Huggins in 1864. The results of the latter investigation demonstrated for the first time that planetary nebulae consist of hot gases, but not stars. Currently the nebula has been observed across the full electromagnetic spectrum, from far-infrared to X-rays. Modern studies reveal several mysteries. The intricacy of the structure may be caused in part by material ejected from a binary central star, but as yet, there is no direct evidence that the central star has a companion. Also, measurements of chemical abundances reveal a large discrepancy between measurements done by two different methods, the cause of which is uncertain. Hubble Telescope observations revealed a number of faint rings around the Eye, which are spherical shells ejected by the central star in the distant past. The exact mechanism of those ejections, however, is unclear.
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  8. Eskimo Nebula

    The Eskimo Nebula, also known as the Clownface Nebula or Caldwell 39, is a bipolar double-shell planetary nebula. It was discovered by astronomer William Herschel in 1787. The formation resembles a person’s head surrounded by a parka hood. It is surrounded by gas that composed the outer layers of a Sun-like star. The visible inner filaments are ejected by a strong wind of particles from the central star. The outer disk contains unusual light-year long filaments. NGC 2392 lies more than 2,870 light-years away and is visible with a small telescope (but more preferably with a larger telescope) in the constellation of Gemini.
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  9. Crab Nebula
           The Crab Nebula is a supernova remnant and pulsar wind nebula in the constellation of Taurus. Corresponding to a bright supernova recorded by Chinese astronomers in 1054, the nebula was observed later by English astronomer John Bevis in 1731. At an apparent magnitude of 8.4, comparable to that of the largest moon of Saturn, it is not visible to the naked eye but can be made out using binoculars under favorable conditions. At X-ray and gamma ray energies above 30 keV, the Crab is generally the strongest persistent source in the sky, with measured flux extending to above 10 TeV. Located at a distance of about 6,500 light-years (2 kpc) from Earth, the nebula has a diameter of 11 light years (3.4 pc, corresponding to an apparent diameter of some 7 arc minutes) and expands at a rate of about 1,500 kilometers per second (0.5% c). It is part of the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way galaxy. At the center of the nebula lies the Crab Pulsar, a neutron star 28–30 km across with a spin rate of 30.2 times per second, which emits pulses of radiation from gamma rays to radio waves. The nebula was the first astronomical object identified with a historical supernova explosion. The nebula acts as a source of radiation for studying celestial bodies that occult it. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Sun’s corona was mapped from observations of the Crab’s radio waves passing through it, and in 2003, the thickness of the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan was measured as it blocked out X-rays from the nebula.
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  10. God’s Eye Nebula (Helix Nebula)
           The Helix Nebula, also known as The Helix, NGC 7293, is a large planetary nebula (PN) located in the constellation Aquarius. Discovered by Karl Ludwig Harding, probably before 1824, this object is one of the closest to the Earth of all the bright planetary nebulae. The estimated distance is about 215 parsecs or 700 light-years. It is similar in appearance to the Cat’s Eye Nebula and the Ring Nebula, whose size, age, and physical characteristics are similar to the Dumbbell Nebula, varying only in its relative proximity and the appearance from the equatorial viewing angle. The Helix Nebula has sometimes been referred to as the “Eye of God” in pop culture.
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  11. Eagle Nebula
           The Eagle Nebula, also known as the Star Queen Nebula, is a young open cluster of stars in the constellation Serpens, discovered by Jean-Philippe de Cheseaux in 1745-46. Its name derives from its shape that is thought to resemble an eagle. It contains several active star-forming gas and dust regions, including the famous “Pillars of Creation,” photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope.
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  12. Egg Nebula
    34Processed with MaxIm DL
           The Egg Nebula is a bipolar protoplanetary nebula approximately 3,000 light-years away from Earth. Its peculiar properties were first described in 1975 using data from the 11 µm survey obtained with sounding rocket by Air Force Geophysical Laboratory in 1971 to 1974. Before this, the object was catalogued by Fritz Zwicky as a pair of galaxies. The Egg Nebula’s defining feature is the series of bright arcs and circles surrounding the central star. A dense layer of gas and dusts enshrouds the central star, blocking its direct light from our view. However, the light from the central star penetrates the thinner regions of this dusty enclosure, illuminating the outer layers of gas to create the arcs. The dusty enclosure around the central star is very likely a disc. The bipolar outflows in the image indicate that the system has angular momentum, which is very likely generated by an accretion disc. In addition, a disc geometry would account for the varying thickness of the enclosure that allows light to escape along the disc’s axis and illuminate the outer layers of gas, but still blocks it from our direct view along the disc edge. Although dusty discs have been confirmed around several post-AGB objects (S. De Ruyter et al., 2006), a disc around the Egg Nebula is yet to be confirmed. The Egg Nebula was photographed by the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The Egg Nebula emits polarized light which can also be detected visually by a medium-sized telescope.
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  13. NGC 604
    Processed with MaxIm DL32
           NGC 604 is a H II region inside the Triangulum Galaxy. It was discovered by William Herschel on September 11, 1784. It is one of the largest H II regions in the Local Group of galaxies; at the galaxy’s estimated distance of 2.7 million light-years its longest diameter is roughly 1,500 light years (460 parsecs), over 40 times the size of the visible portion of the Orion Nebula. It is over 6,300 times more luminous than the Orion Nebula, and if it were at the same distance it would outshine Venus. Like all emission nebulae, its gas is ionized by a cluster of massive stars at its center, with 200 stars of spectral type O and WR, a mass of 105 solar masses, and an age of 3.5 million years; however, unlike the Large Magellanic Cloud’s Tarantula Nebula central cluster (R136), NGC 604’s one is much less compact and more similar to a large stellar association, being considered the prototypical example of a Scaled OB Association (SOBA).
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  14. Great Nebula in Carina
           The Great Carina Nebula is a large bright nebula that has within its boundaries several related open clusters of stars. Some papers generally refer to this as the Carina Nebula, mostly because of differentiating the many paper published on this object, but the historical precedence as determined by southern observers like James Dunlop and John Herschel, who have both termed it the Eta Argus Nebula or Eta Carinae Nebula. John Herschel also describes “The star η Argus, with the Great nebula about it.” with many of his subsequent published papers supporting this. Eta Carinae and HD 93129A, two of the most massive and luminous stars in our Milky Way galaxy, are among them. The nebula lies at an estimated distance between 6,500 and 10,000 light years from Earth. It appears in the constellation of Carina, and is located in the Carina–Sagittarius Arm. The nebula contains multiple O-type stars. The nebula is one of the largest diffuse nebulae in our skies. Although it is some four times as large and even brighter than the famous Orion Nebula, the Carina Nebula is much less well known, due to its location in the southern sky. It was discovered by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in 1751–52 from the Cape of Good Hope.
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  15. Jellyfish Nebula
           IC 443 (also known as the Jellyfish Nebula and Sharpless 248 (Sh2-248)) is a Galactic supernova remnant (SNR) in the constellation Gemini. On the plan of the sky, it is located near the star Eta Geminorum. Its distance is roughly 5,000 light years from Earth. IC 443 may be the remains of a supernova that occurred 3,000 – 30,000 years ago. The same supernova event likely created the neutron star CXOU J061705.3+222127, the collapsed remnant of the stellar core. IC 443 is one of the best-studied cases of supernova remnants interacting with surrounding molecular clouds.
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  16. Tarantula Nebula
           The Tarantula Nebula is an H II region in the Large Magellanic Cloud. It was originally thought to be a star, but in 1751 Nicolas Louis de Lacaille recognized its nebular nature. The Tarantula Nebula has an apparent magnitude of 8. Considering its distance of about 49 kpc (160,000 light years), this is an extremely luminous non-stellar object. Its luminosity is so great that if it were as close to Earth as the Orion Nebula, the Tarantula Nebula would cast shadows. In fact, it is the most active starburst region known in the Local Group of galaxies. It is also one of the largest such region in the Local Group with an estimated diameter of 200 pc. The nebula resides on the leading edge of the LMC, where ram pressure stripping, and the compression of the interstellar medium likely resulting from this, is at a maximum. At its core lies the compact star cluster R136 (approximate diameter 35 light years) that produces most of the energy that makes the nebula visible. The estimated mass of the cluster is 450,000 solar masses, suggesting it will likely become a globular cluster in the future. In addition to R136, the Tarantula Nebula also contains an older star cluster – catalogued as Hodge 301 – with an age of 20–25 million years. The most massive stars of this cluster have already exploded in supernovae. The closest supernova observed since the invention of the telescope, Supernova 1987A, occurred in the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula.
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  17. Mayall’s Object (Pac-Man Galaxy)

    Mayall’s Object (also classified under the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies as Arp 148) is the result of two colliding galaxies located 500 million light years away within the constellation of Ursa Major. It was discovered by Nicholas U. Mayall of the Lick Observatory on 13 March 1940, using the Crossley reflector. When first discovered, Mayall’s Object was described as a peculiar nebula, shaped like a question mark. Originally theorized to represent a galaxy reacting with the intergalactic medium, it is now thought to represent the collision of the two original galaxies has resulted in a new object consisting of a ring-shaped galaxy with a tail emerging from it. It is thought that the original collision between the two original galaxies created a shockwave that initially drew matter into the center which then formed the ring.
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  18. IOK-1 (Most Remote Galaxy)
           IOK-1, probably one of the oldest and most distant galaxies yet found, seen as it was 12.88 billion years ago, was discovered in April 2006 by Masanori Iye at National Astronomical Observatory of Japan using the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii. Its emission of Lyman alpha radiation has a redshift of 6.96, corresponding to just 750 million years after the Big Bang. While some scientists have claimed other objects (such as Abell 1835 IR1916) to be even older, the IOK-1’s age and composition have been more reliably established. “IOK” stands for the observers’ names Iye, Ota, and Kashikawa.
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  19. NGC 2207 and IC 2163
    NGC 2207 and IC 2163 are a pair of colliding spiral galaxies about 80 million light-years away in the constellation Canis Major. Both galaxies were discovered by John Herschel in 1835. So far four supernovae have been observed in NGC 2207 (type Ia SN 1975a in January 1975, type Ib SN 1999ec in October 1999, type Ib SN 2003H—discovered halfway between the two galaxies and type II supernova SN 2013ai in March 2013. NGC 2207 is in the process of tidally stripping IC 2163. NGC 2207 is in the process of colliding and merging with IC 2163. But unlike the Antennae or the Mice Galaxies, they are still two separate spiral galaxies. They are only in the first step of colliding and merging. Soon they will collide, probably looking a bit more like the Mice Galaxies. In about a billion years time they are expected to merge and become an elliptical galaxy.
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  20. “Starry Night” Image (Star in the Milky Way Surrounded by a Halo of Light)

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  21. Omega Nebula
           The Omega Nebula, also known as the Swan Nebula, Checkmark Nebula, Lobster Nebula, and the Horseshoe Nebula (catalogued as Messier 17 or M17 and as NGC 6618) is an H II region in the constellation Sagittarius. It was discovered by Philippe Loys de Chéseaux in 1745. Charles Messier catalogued it in 1764. It is located in the rich starfields of the Sagittarius area of the Milky Way.
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  22. Mesier 51, Grand Design Spiral Galaxy
    Mesier 51Mesier 511Mesier 512
           The Whirlpool Galaxy (also known as Messier 51a, M51a, or NGC 5194) is an interacting grand-design spiral galaxy located at a distance of approximately 23 million light-years in the constellation Canes Venatici. It is one of the most famous galaxies in the sky. The galaxy and its companion (NGC 5195) are easily observed by amateur astronomers, and the two galaxies may even be seen with binoculars. The Whirlpool Galaxy is also a popular target for professional astronomers, who study it to further understand galaxy structure (particularly structure associated with the spiral arms) and galaxy interactions. A grand design spiral galaxy is a type of spiral galaxy with prominent and well-defined spiral arms, as opposed to multi-arm and flocculent spirals which have subtler structural features. The spiral arms of a grand design galaxy extend clearly around the galaxy through many radians and can be observed over a large fraction of the galaxy’s radius. Approximately ten percent of spiral galaxies are classified as grand design type spirals, including M81, M51 and M74. Density wave theory is the preferred explanation for the well-defined structure of grand design spirals. According to this theory, the spiral arms are created inside density waves that turn around the galaxy at different speeds from the stars in the galaxy’s disk. Stars are clumped in these dense regions due to gravitational attraction towards the dense material, though their location in the spiral arm may not be permanent. When they come close to the spiral arm, they are pulled towards the dense material by the force of gravity; and as they travel through the arm, they are slowed from exiting by the same gravitational pull. This causes material to clump in the dense regions.
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  23. Centaurus A
    Centaurus A
           Centaurus A (also known as NGC 5128) is a lenticular galaxy about 11 million light-years away in the constellation Centaurus. It is one of the closest radio galaxies to Earth, so its active galactic nucleus has been extensively studied by professional astronomers. The galaxy is also the 5th brightest in the sky, making it an ideal amateur astronomy target, although the galaxy is only visible from low northern latitudes and the southern hemisphere. A relativistic jet which extracts energy from the vicinity of what is believed to be a super massive black hole at the center of the galaxy is responsible for emissions in the X-ray and radio wavelengths. By taking radio observations of the jet separated by a decade, astronomers have determined that the inner parts of the jet are moving at about one half of the speed of light. X-rays are produced farther out as the jet collides with surrounding gases resulting in the creation of highly energetic particles. As observed in other starburst galaxies, a collision is responsible for the intense burst of star formation. Using the Spitzer Space Telescope scientists confirm that Centaurus A is going through a galaxy collision by devouring a spiral galaxy.
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  24. ISOHDFS 27

           ISOHDFS 27 is the most massive spiral galaxy known so far. It is approximately 6 billion light years from Earth. It has a mass of 1.04 × 1012 solar masses (M), about four times as massive as the Milky Way.
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  25. Galaxies

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