heic0506 - Science Release

Hubble celebrates 15th anniversary with spectacular new images

25 April 2005

During the 15 years that the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has orbited the Earth, it has taken three-quarters of a million photos of the cosmos - images that have awed, astounded and even confounded astronomers and the public alike. Today NASA and ESA released new views of two of the most well-known images Hubble has ever taken: the Eagle Nebula, and spiral galaxy M51, known as the Whirlpool Galaxy.

The new images released today are among the largest and sharpest views Hubble has ever taken, were made with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). The two new images are so incredibly sharp they could be enlarged to billboard size and still retain all of their stunning details.

For Hubble's 15th anniversary, scientists used the newer ACS camera to revisit one region of the eerie-looking Eagle Nebula, producing a new image with stunning detail. The new Eagle Nebula image reveals a tall, dense tower of gas being sculpted by ultraviolet light from a group of massive, hot stars. The new Whirlpool Galaxy image showcases the spiral galaxy's classic features, from its curving arms, where newborn stars reside, to its yellowish central core that serves as home for older stars.

NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery launched Hubble into space on 24 April 1990 and placed it into orbit a day after, thereby opening a brand new era in astronomy. For the first time ever, a large telescope that viewed in visible light orbited above Earth's distorting atmosphere, which blurs starlight making images appear fuzzy. After installation of a new camera and a device that compensated for an improperly ground mirror, images of planets, stars, galaxies, and nebula began pouring in - all up to 10 times sharper than any previous telescope had ever delivered.

Scientists using Hubble have compiled a long list of scientific achievements since its launch 15 years ago. Hubble has:

  • Helped astronomers calculate the precise age of the universe (13.7 billion years old);
  • Helped confirm the existence of a strange form of energy called dark energy;
  • Detected small proto-galaxies that emitted their light when the universe was less than a billion years old;
  • Proved the existence of super-massive black holes;
  • Provided sharp views of a comet hitting Jupiter;
  • Showed that the process of forming planetary systems is common throughout the galaxy, and;
  • Taken more than 700,000 snapshots of celestial objects such as galaxies, dying stars, and giant gas clouds where stars are born.

To mark the event on 24 April, the European Space Agency is presenting a series of unique activities in collaboration with partners all over Europe. These includes an exclusive, full-length DVD film (one of the most widely distributed documentary films ever), a CD of the film soundtrack, a full-colour book and additional educational material. All over Europe, there will be Hubble Day events, press events and planetarium shows about Hubble. The mural-sized celestial images of the new Eagle Nebula and Whirlpool Galaxy were unveiled Sunday at the 40 Hubble Day events in Europe, as well as at more than 100 other venues in the USA.

Read more about the Hubble 15th Anniversary celebrations at the ESA Hubble 15th Anniversary web site: http://www.spacetelescope.org/projects/anniversary/

Notes

The videos to the right are from ESA's Anniversary movie Hubble - 15 Years of Discovery.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.

Some Hubble Facts:

  • In its 15 years of viewing the sky, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has taken more than 700,000 exposures and probed more than 22,000 celestial objects.
  • The Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) is the most observed area of the sky. Hubble spent more than 500 hours viewing the HUDF, snapping more than 1,100 photographs.
  • Hubble has whirled around Earth nearly 88,000 times, racking up more than 4 billion kilometres.
  • The telescope's observations have produced 23 terabytes of data, equal to the amount of text in 23 million novels.
  • Each day the orbiting observatory generates enough data - about 15 gigabytes - to fill more than three DVDs.
  • In Hubble's 15-year lifetime, about 3,900 astronomers from all over the world have used the telescope to probe the universe.
  • Astronomers have published more than 4,000 scientific papers on Hubble results.

Image credit heic0506a: NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).

Image credit heic0506b: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Links

Contacts

Lars Lindberg Christensen
Hubble European Space Agency Information Centre, Garching, Germany
Tel: +49-(0)89-3200-6306
Cellular: +49-(0)173-3872-621
E-mail: lars@eso.org

Bob Fosbury
Tel: +49-(0)89-3200-6291
E-mail: rfosbury@eso.org

Donna Weaver
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD, USA
Tel: +1-410/338-4493

About the Release

Release No.:heic0506

Images

Out of this whirl: The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) and companion galaxy
Out of this whirl: The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) and companion galaxy
Screenshots from ESA's Anniversary movie
Screenshots from ESA's Anniversary movie
The Eagle has risen: Stellar spire in the Eagle Nebula
The Eagle has risen: Stellar spire in the Eagle Nebula

Videos

Panning on the Whirlpool Galaxy
Panning on the Whirlpool Galaxy
Panning on the Eagle Nebula
Panning on the Eagle Nebula
Zooming on the Whirlpool Galaxy
Zooming on the Whirlpool Galaxy
Comparison of ACS and NICMOS
Comparison of ACS and NICMOS
The Antennae Galaxies
The Antennae Galaxies
Light entering Earth's atmosphere
Light entering Earth's atmosphere
Black hole deforms space
Black hole deforms space
Black hole (artist's impression)
Black hole (artist's impression)
Black hole (artist's impression)
Black hole (artist's impression)
Black hole (artist's impression)
Black hole (artist's impression)
Flight through butterfly shaped nebulae
Flight through butterfly shaped nebulae
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 1, THE HUBBLE STORY
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 1, THE HUBBLE STORY
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 2, HUBBLE CLOSE UP
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 2, HUBBLE CLOSE UP
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 3, PLANETARY TALES
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 3, PLANETARY TALES
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 4, THE LIVES OF STARS
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 4, THE LIVES OF STARS
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 5, COSMIC COLLISIONS
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 5, COSMIC COLLISIONS
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 6, MONSTERS IN SPACE
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 6, MONSTERS IN SPACE
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 7 GRAVITATIONAL ILLUSIONS
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 7 GRAVITATIONAL ILLUSIONS
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 8, BIRTH AND DEATH OF THE UNIVERSE
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 8, BIRTH AND DEATH OF THE UNIVERSE
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 9, LOOKING TO THE END OF TIME Part 1
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 9, LOOKING TO THE END OF TIME Part 1
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 9, LOOKING TO THE END OF TIME Part 2
English version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 9, LOOKING TO THE END OF TIME Part 2
The Cone Nebula in 3D
The Cone Nebula in 3D
Mirage in the Desert
Mirage in the Desert
The Eagle Nebula
The Eagle Nebula
Zoom on the Eagle Nebula
Zoom on the Eagle Nebula
Extrasolar planet
Extrasolar planet
Extrasolar planet
Extrasolar planet
Gamma Ray Burst
Gamma Ray Burst
Gamma Ray Burst
Gamma Ray Burst
Rotating Globular Cluster
Rotating Globular Cluster
Gravitational Lensing
Gravitational Lensing
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 1, THE HUBBLE STORY
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 1, THE HUBBLE STORY
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 2, HUBBLE CLOSE UP
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 2, HUBBLE CLOSE UP
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 3, PLANETARY TALES
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 3, PLANETARY TALES
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 4, THE LIVES OF STARS
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 4, THE LIVES OF STARS
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 5, COSMIC COLLISIONS
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 5, COSMIC COLLISIONS
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 6, MONSTERS IN SPACE
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 6, MONSTERS IN SPACE
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 7 GRAVITATIONAL ILLUSIONS
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 7 GRAVITATIONAL ILLUSIONS
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 8, BIRTH AND DEATH OF THE UNIVERSE
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 8, BIRTH AND DEATH OF THE UNIVERSE
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 9, LOOKING TO THE END OF TIME Part 1
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 9, LOOKING TO THE END OF TIME Part 1
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 9, LOOKING TO THE END OF TIME Part 2
Greek version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 9, LOOKING TO THE END OF TIME Part 2
Ground-based image compared to Hubble image
Ground-based image compared to Hubble image
Zoom on the region Ursa Major
Zoom on the region Ursa Major
Exploded view of Hubble
Exploded view of Hubble
Exploded view of Hubble
Exploded view of Hubble
Exploded view of Hubble
Exploded view of Hubble
Exploded view of Hubble
Exploded view of Hubble
German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 1, THE HUBBLE STORY
German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 1, THE HUBBLE STORY
German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 2, HUBBLE CLOSE UP
German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 2, HUBBLE CLOSE UP
German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 3, PLANETARY TALES
German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 3, PLANETARY TALES
German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 4, THE LIVES OF STARS
German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 4, THE LIVES OF STARS
German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 5, COSMIC COLLISIONS
German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 5, COSMIC COLLISIONS
German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 6, MONSTERS IN SPACE
German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 6, MONSTERS IN SPACE
German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 7 GRAVITATIONAL ILLUSIONS
German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 7 GRAVITATIONAL ILLUSIONS
German version of the German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 8, BIRTH AND DEATH OF THE UNIVERSE
German version of the German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 8, BIRTH AND DEATH OF THE UNIVERSE
German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 9, LOOKING TO THE END OF TIME Part 1
German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 9, LOOKING TO THE END OF TIME Part 1
German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 9, LOOKING TO THE END OF TIME Part 2
German version of the Hubble DVD 15 Years of Discovery, Chapter 9, LOOKING TO THE END OF TIME Part 2
Hubble looking back in time
Hubble looking back in time
Milky Way Collision with the Andromeda Galaxy
Milky Way Collision with the Andromeda Galaxy
Zoom on the Andromeda Galaxy
Zoom on the Andromeda Galaxy
3D animation of the Milky Way from Hubble
3D animation of the Milky Way from Hubble
3D animation of the Milky Way
3D animation of the Milky Way
3D animation of the Milky Way
3D animation of the Milky Way
3D animation of the Milky Way from Hubble
3D animation of the Milky Way from Hubble
Panning on Orion Proplyds
Panning on Orion Proplyds
Planetary impressions
Planetary impressions
This comparison image of the core of the galaxy M100 shows the dramatic improvement in Hubble Space Telescope's view of the universe.
This comparison image of the core of the galaxy M100 shows the dramatic improvement in Hubble Space Telescope's view of the universe.
Comet Shoemaker Levy colliding with Jupiter
Comet Shoemaker Levy colliding with Jupiter
Comet Shoemaker Levy Impacts
Comet Shoemaker Levy Impacts
Jupiter closeup showing the Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacts
Jupiter closeup showing the Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacts
Flight through our Solar System
Flight through our Solar System
Solar System formation
Solar System formation
Stars packed into the volume between our sun and the nearest star
Stars packed into the volume between our sun and the nearest star
Sun to Earth animation
Sun to Earth animation
The Swan Nebula
The Swan Nebula
The Trifid Nebula
The Trifid Nebula

Print Layouts

Out of this whirl: The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) and companion galaxy
Out of this whirl: The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) and companion galaxy
Screenshots from ESA's Anniversary movie
Screenshots from ESA's Anniversary movie

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