By Elizabeth Howell, Space.com Contributor | January 27, 2019
Time to change your desktop pictures. The Hubble Space Telescope has produced an amazing paannamic image of the Triangulum Galaxy, one of the closest galactic neighbors to Earth.
The famed space observatory captured a swirling spiral of stars in 54 fields of view, capturing data across a span of some 19,000 light-years, Hubble researchers said in a statement. (One light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles, or 10 trillion kilometers.)
The result is a huge picture of Triangulum — also called M33 — that encompasses some 25 million viewable stars. While the image is an art piece in itself, astronomers will use it to learn more about the neighborhood near the Milky Way, which is our own galaxy.
The stunning Triangulum Galaxy as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: M. Durbin/J. Dalcanton/B.F. Williams (University of Washington)/NASA/ESA
Triangulum is one of several galaxies near the Earth, residing in a zone known as the Local Group. The group includes dozens of members, but is dominated by the big three galaxies of Andromeda (which Hubble also captured in high resolution in 2015), the Milky Way and Triangulum.
Triangulum's star formation is about 10 times more intense than what was captured in Hubble's picture of Andromeda, so astronomers say the new picture of Triangulum will uncover some of the mechanisms of that star formation, according to the statement.
"Astronomers think that in the Local Group, Triangulum has been something of an introvert, isolated from frequent interactions with other galaxies while keeping busy producing stars along organized spiral arms. Uncovering the Triangulum Galaxy's story will provide an important point of reference in understanding how galaxies develop over time, and the diverse paths that shape what we see today," researchers said in the statement.
Close-up views of the Triangulum Galaxy. Credit: M. Durbin/J. Dalcanton/B.F. Williams (University of Washington)/NASA/ESA
Hubble is nearing 30 years of operations this year since its launch in 1990, and remains in excellent health. NASA has said operations should continue even beyond the launch of the next-generation James Webb Space Telescope, which is currently scheduled for launch in 2021.
The new version of Hubble's deep image. In dark grey is the new light that has been found around the galaxies in this field. That light corresponds to the brightness of more than 100 billion suns. Credit: A. S. Borlaff et al.
One of the Hubble Space Telescope's most famous images peered even deeper into the cosmos than scientists had thought.
That photo is the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field (HUDF), which combines hundreds of images taken by the space telescope over multiple years into the deepest view of the universe ever created. The composite pic of a small patch of sky contains a whopping 10,000 galaxies, astronomers have estimated. (The HUDF also refers to that patch of sky, not just imagery of it.)
Now, researchers have painstakingly reprocessed the iconic image, recovering lots of additional light, a new study reports. [The Most Amazing Hubble Space Telescope Discoveries!]
"What we have done is to go back to the archive of the original images, directly as observed by the HST, and improve the process of combination, aiming at the best image quality not only for the more distant smaller galaxies but also for the extended regions of the largest galaxies," study leader Alejandro Borlaff, from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) in the Canary Islands, said in a statement.
The new work revealed that some of the galaxies in the HUDF view are nearly twice as big as previously thought, study team members said.
The Hubble Space Telescope launched to Earth orbit in April 1990 aboard NASA's space shuttle Discovery. The scope got off to an inauspicious start; its initial images were blurry, a problem that mission team members traced to a slight flaw in Hubble's primary mirror.
Spacewalking astronauts fixed that problem in December 1993, giving Hubble the sharp focus it's known for today.
The 2012 version of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image. Credit: R. Ellis (Caltech), and the HUDF 2012 Team/NASA/ESA
That was the first of five servicing missions that repaired, maintained and upgraded the telescope over the years. The most recent of these, which occurred in May 2009, installed what is today Hubble's main eye on the universe, an instrument called the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).
The HUDF image has long been a work in progress. The first version combined data gathered by Hubble from late 2003 to early 2004; later updates have incorporated additional imagery in various wavelengths of light.
The new study, which was published this month in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, looked at the 2012 incarnation of the HUDF, which relied heavily on data gathered by the WFC3.
casper: I'm back again!!! Maybe this time my computer won't die like it did the last time.
Apr 29, 2018 19:36:04 GMT -6
casper: Skywalker just fixed it. You know what that means. It's doomed.
Apr 29, 2018 19:36:53 GMT -6
skywalker: Very funny, ghost boy
Jun 3, 2018 14:58:58 GMT -6
lois: Casper he should come fix mine. Mine is doomed
Jun 26, 2018 21:54:27 GMT -6
spotless38: Iam back after a long break . What a couple of years I had . After what had happened I lost my brother and had to bury him and then I had caught that type A flue and I was a very sick puppy I also needed blood for the loss of it .
Jul 7, 2018 13:30:41 GMT -6
lois: Very Happy to see you Ron. Missed you. Glad you are doing better now. Sorry for your lost. I did not know your brother had passed. hugs lois
Jul 10, 2018 0:52:45 GMT -6
paulette: Ron - hope you've hit a quiet spot. Sorry for your loss.
Aug 3, 2018 10:49:30 GMT -6
lois: I picked up my phone a few days ago and I looked at the name of the caller. Boy was I surprise. It has been a couple of years. So good to hear your voice Ron. Hope you make it a habit again. love and hugs .
Aug 15, 2018 23:21:38 GMT -6
leia77: Spotless, I am glad that you are feeling better and welcome back! I too am back from a long time away...
Aug 31, 2018 2:08:32 GMT -6
jcurio: I am much relieved to see that you have been on here, Spotless! I hope that things are going much better for you now
Sept 19, 2018 16:46:42 GMT -6
jcurio: And Lois, And Lorelei!
Sept 19, 2018 16:47:07 GMT -6
casper: And Meeeeeee!!
Oct 16, 2018 18:41:31 GMT -6
lois: Sorry guys I cannot see the print. On is tiny hand computer
Oct 21, 2018 20:42:09 GMT -6
lois: Casper your page stops at page five in 2016
Nov 15, 2018 23:54:01 GMT -6
lois: How did your Halloween night go this year?
Nov 15, 2018 23:54:58 GMT -6
skywalker: He posted on the Halloween thread this year.
Nov 25, 2018 18:33:36 GMT -6
lois: Oh ok Sky I will check it out. Thanks.
Dec 21, 2018 21:45:31 GMT -6
lois: What topic was it under.
Dec 21, 2018 21:51:07 GMT -6