#OTD 30 years ago, the Space Shuttle Endeavour launched from @NASAKennedy on a very important mission – to service the Hubble Space Telescope for the first time!
Shortly after Hubble’s 1990 deployment in low-Earth orbit, a small flaw was detected in its primary mirror that caused its images to blur.
Thankfully, Hubble was designed to be visited by astronauts in space, who could make repairs, replace parts, and update its technology with new instruments while in orbit.
Servicing Mission 1 (SM1) was the first opportunity to install corrective optics that counteracted the primary mirror’s flaw, add new instruments, and conduct planned maintenance on the telescope.
It proved what humans are capable of in space, and gave Hubble a clear view of the cosmos. Follow along @NASAHubble for more anniversary content, including interviews with SM1 astronauts and key @NASA players.
Learn more at the link in @NASAHubble ’s bio!
Hubble celebrates a very special anniversary this month!
Thirty years ago, the critical first servicing mission (SM1) by astronauts to Hubble fixed the telescope’s initial blurry vision, caused by a small flaw in its primary mirror's shape – which was off by less than the width of a single human hair.
The path to SM1 was a tricky one, full of challenges and setbacks that NASA overcame to make Hubble an unprecedented scientific powerhouse for over three decades and counting.
Starting tomorrow, you'll get a firsthand look back at SM1 as we share mission milestones and videos from key players, including SM1 astronauts. Visit the link in our bio to get ready!
Image description: The cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Endeavour is visible in front of the blue curve of the Earth and black space. The Hubble Space Telescope is fixed to the cargo bay, and an astronaut in a white spacesuit is at lower right.
Twice as starstruck 🤩
Astronomers initially thought Abell 3192, seen in this #HubbleFriday view, was one galaxy cluster. Closer observation revealed there are actually two clusters: a foreground group around 2.3 billion light-years from Earth, and another group at a greater distance of about 5.4 billion light-years.
Explore more at the link in our bio.
Image description: A cluster of galaxies, concentrated around what appear to be two large elliptical galaxies. The rest of the black background is covered in smaller galaxies of all shapes and sizes. In the top left and bottom right, beside the two large galaxies, some galaxies appear notably distorted into curves by gravity.
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, G. Smith, H. Ebeling, D. Coe
The galaxy Caldwell 48 spirals around a glowing, central region of old stars.
Its tightly wound spiral arms are bursting with bright blue, young stars and interlaced with dark dust.
C48 is located about 67 million light-years away in the constellation Cancer.
“Drone Haunting Church” by Anton Sych [BMI] and Sebastian Barnaby Robertson [BMI] via Killer Tracks [BMI] and Universal Production Music
A galactic jumble! 🌀
An eclectic mix of galaxies shines in this #HubbleClassic image – including a bright, blue arc above the red galaxy at center.
The arc is actually an optical illusion caused by gravitational lensing, which occurs when the light from a distant source is magnified and warped by the mass of an object in front of it. The blue distorted arc is actually a galaxy about 10 billion light-years away.
This ancient galaxy existed just a few billion years after the Big Bang, when the universe was about a quarter of its present age!
Image description: Several galaxies shine against black space, including a red galaxy at center with a small, blue arc above it. A yellow spiral galaxy with elongated arms is at lower right, and a bright blue-white galaxy shines at top center.
Image credit: NASA, ESA, J. Blakeslee and H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University)
We're dishing up some cosmic turkey for your #Thanksgiving ! 🦃
In reality, this gorgeous Hubble view is the Orion Nebula. This is the closest major star-forming region to Earth, at a distance of about 1,500 light-years.
The nebula is an enormous cloud of dust and gas where vast numbers of new stars are being forged. Its bright, central region is the home of four massive, young stars that shape the nebula, known as the Trapezium because they are arranged in a trapezoidal pattern.
Created using 520 different Hubble exposures taken in multiple wavelengths of light, this image is the sharpest view of the Orion Nebula ever obtained.
Image description: This expansive and cloudy cosmic landscape has sweeping clouds that shine in pink, yellow, orange, and brown. Some large, bright stars are visible glowing within the clouds and other foreground stars are peppered throughout the image.
Image credit: NASA, ESA, M. Robberto (Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team
Take a journey 16 million light-years away, to the galaxy M94…
Shining in this Reel, M94 is a spiral galaxy. Astronomers initially thought it stretched about 30,000 light-years across, but two faint spiral arms (not visible in this image) were recently discovered outside of its core region that extend far out into space. This discovery has effectively tripled the galaxy’s known diameter!
The bright ring of stars around the galaxy’s center is known as a starburst ring, where new stars form at a high rate.
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Music credit: “Star Bound” by David Bramfitt [ASCAP] via Open Note [ASCAP] and Universal Production Music
Can you SagDIG it?
This sparkling #HubbleClassic shows a small galaxy called the Sagittarius dwarf irregular galaxy (SagDIG for short).
Hubble's sharp vision reveals thousands of individual stars within the galaxy, which is located 3.5 million light-years away.
Unlike spiral or elliptical galaxies, dwarf irregular galaxies like this one have a much smaller physical size and lack of definite structure.
Image description: Thousands of tiny, blue stars dot the image, more tightly concentrated near the center. Closer foreground stars shine in yellow, white, and orange hues, with diffraction spikes.
Image credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); Acknowledgment: Y. Momany (University of Padua)
Happy birthday to our namesake, Edwin Hubble! 🎂
Like the Hubble Space Telescope, Edwin Hubble’s discoveries transformed the frontier of scientific knowledge. His work took us beyond the Milky Way and placed us in an ever-expanding universe with a myriad of galaxies beyond our own.
Find out more about Hubble (the telescope and the person!) at the link in our bio.
Edwin Hubble image courtesy of Edwin P. Hubble Papers, Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
Image description: A black-and-white photograph shows Edwin Hubble seated and looking through 100-inch telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory.
Happy #HubbleFriday ! ✨
This image shows the spiral galaxy NGC 941. Located 55 million light-years from Earth, NGC 941 resides in the constellation Cetus.
Hubble observed this galaxy to collect data about type II supernovae, which occur when a massive star explodes at the end of its lifetime. An amateur astronomer named Kōichi Itagaki discovered a supernova in NGC 941, named SN 2005ad, prompting the follow-up observations with Hubble.
Discover more at the link in our bio!
Image description: A spiral galaxy, seen face-on from Earth. The spiral arms of the galaxy are bright but not well defined, merging into a swirling disk with a faint halo of dimmer gas around it. The core glows brightly in a lighter color and has a bit of faint dust crossing it. Two redder, visually smaller galaxies and a bright star are prominent around the galaxy, with more tiny objects in the background.
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, C. Kilpatrick
Welcome to LTT 1445Ac – the nearest Earth-sized planet beyond our solar system that passes across the face of a neighboring star.
Called a "transit," this type of alignment allows astronomers to characterize and better understand planets that orbit other stars.
LTT 1445Ac's size is only 1.07 times the size of Earth's diameter, and has approximately the same surface gravity. However, its surface temperature is about 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260°C), so it wouldn't be able to support life as we know it.
Future follow-up observations will investigate what – if any – type of atmosphere this planet might have.
Keep reading more at the link in our bio!
Image description: Artist's concept of nearby exoplanet LTT 1445Ac, which is the size of Earth. The rocky planet appears as a small black dot against a bright light-red sphere at image center. The star is in a triple system, with two closely orbiting red dwarfs – a pair of red dots – seen at upper right. Another exoplanet in the system, LTT 1445Ab is in the foreground at lower left.
Art credit: NASA, ESA, Leah Hustak (STScI)