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Hubblecast 54: 22 years in pictures

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Episode 54: 22 years in pictures On 24 April 1990, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope was launched into space. In the 22 years since, it has sent back more than a million observations. Here are a few of our favourites: one from every year. Among the first images to be sent back from Hubble after its launch in April 1990, this image of Saturn is good by the standards of ground-based telescopes, but slightly blurry. This is because of the well-publicised problem with Hubble’s mirror. Although not perfectly sharp, this early image of the Orion Nebula nevertheless shows the rich colours and structures of this bright star-forming region. Throughout the region of the Orion Nebula are numerous streamers of gas that come from newborn stars, known to astronomers as Herbig-Haro Objects. In late 1993, Hubble’s teething problems were resolved in the first servicing mission. Before-and-after images of the core of spiral galaxy Messier 100 show how this dramatically improved the telescope’s image quality. Soon after, comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with Jupiter A similar impact on Earth 65 million years ago may have killed off the dinosaurs. Hubble’s image of the ‘pillars of creation’ in the Eagle Nebula is one of its most famous. These huge, dusty structures enshroud pockets of ongoing star formation. This image from 1996 shows a planetary nebula, which represents the other end of a star’s life from the Eagle Nebula: stellar death. NASA’s Mars Pathfinder probe was en route to Mars in 1997 while Hubble took this image. Another planetary nebula, the Ring Nebula is one of the most famous. The Keyhole Nebula, part of the larger Carina Nebula is another bright star-forming region rich in glowing gas. Not all nebulae glow brightly. NGC 1999 features a dark patch silhouetted against a brighter background of reflected starlight. This galaxy shows the dramatic deformations that can occur after collisions between galaxies. Further upgrades in 2002, including a new main camera increased resolution and picture quality again. This ultra-sharp image demonstrates the new instrument’s capabilities. This extremely long exposure was designed to observe the most distant and faintest galaxies in the Universe. The dramatic collision of two spiral galaxies is visible in this image of the Antennae Galaxies. This image of the Orion Nebula is one of the largest and most detailed ever made. Globular clusters, roughly spherical collections of stars, contain some of the oldest stars in our Milky Way. Hubble can produce sharp images of stars even in their crowded centres. This image was taken just before an electronic failure in January 2007 which damaged Hubble's main camera. Although even its remaining instruments meant it could compete with the best telescopes on the ground. In 2009, a final servicing mission repaired the damage and installed a new camera Hubble was back in business. Using its new instrumentation, Hubble peered into the heart of Centaurus A, a dramatically dusty galaxy. Just published in April 2012, this image of the Tarantula Nebula combines Hubble observations from 2011, with colour data from the European Southern Observatory. It is one of the most detailed ever made of a star-forming region weighing in at an astonishing 330 megapixels. Most of Hubble’s data are only made public a year after they are made So what’s Hubble’s best picture from 2012? You’ll just have to wait to find out... Subtitles by ESA/Hubble

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 4 seconds
Country: Germany
Language: English
Producer: Lars Lindberg Christensen
Director: Oli Usher
Views: 251
Posted by: esahubble on Apr 13, 2012

To celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope this month, episode 54 of the Hubblecast gives a slideshow of some of the best images from over two decades in orbit, set to specially commissioned music.

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