Hubble Space Telescope has dazzled the globe with views of space and a deeper understanding of how the cosmos functions since its launch in 1990.
Despite its age and small size, the Hubble Space Telescope is still among the greatest in the world. The 2.4m Hubble mirror, with optics that are reaching their third decade of usage, is rather ordinary for contemporary research telescopes when compared to the enormous 8–10m telescopes constructed on the ground, with much larger ones planned in the future. Although the demand for its use in research continually outstrips the amount of observing time available each year, it is still regarded as the best optical and ultraviolet telescope because it consistently exceeds several of the most sophisticated ground-based telescopes.
Top 3 Hubble facts
- Hubble has travelled a distance equal to a trip to Neptune, the furthest planet in our solar system, at a speed of 17,500 mph.
- Hubble has viewed objects that are more than 13.4 billion light years away from Earth in the very distant past.
- Hubble has performed more than 1.3 million observations since the start of its mission in 1990.
What has Hubble discovered?
The success of Hubble is in large part attributable to its location far above the atmosphere, where it is free from many factors that confound observers on the ground. In fact, because of the presence of substances like ozone that absorb ultraviolet light in the higher atmosphere, UV astronomy is all but impossible to do from the ground. Hubble is able to capture some of the clearest and most in-depth photographs of our Universe because of this and the absence of the turbulent air currents that give stars the appearance of sparkling.
Hubble constantly gives us a perspective of how items appeared in the past when it displays photographs of objects in space. This is due to the fact that light requires time to travel over great distances from its source. Even with relatively close objects, the delay can be striking. For example, the Andromeda galaxy, our closest neighbor, can be seen as it was almost 2.5 million years ago. As a result, telescopes like the Hubble act as time machines, allowing us to research the evolution of the Universe.
Here are some of its most significant scientific contributions:
- Aided in determining the universe’s age, which is currently estimated to be 13.8 billion years old—roughly three times the age of Earth.
- Nix and Hydra, two moons of Pluto, were found.
- Aided in calculating the rate of the universe’s expansion.
- Discovered that the centres of almost all large galaxies contain black holes.
- A 3-D map of dark matter was made.
Hubble discoveries | a timeline
1990 | After over 20 years of planning, the Hubble Space Telescope is launched.
1993 | An error with Hubble’s mirror during its initial flight resulted in a significant blurring effect, which significantly impeded the space telescope’s ability to conduct ground-breaking astronomy. Astronauts from the Endeavour space shuttle repaired a fault in Hubble’s mirror during the first servicing trip, bringing its optics to the astounding degree of detail we see today.
1994 | Hubble captured images of a massive plume of debris left behind by Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 when it struck Jupiter, observing a rare cometary impact. By observing the galaxy M87, Hubble also produced unambiguous proof of the presence of Supermassive Black Holes in the centres of galaxies.
1995 | Hubble captured the Eagle Nebula in the well-known image that came to be known as the “pillars of creation.”
The exoplanet HD 209458b’s atmosphere was sampled by Hubble in 2001.
2004 | The Hubble Ultra Deep Field was made available, enabling scientists to probe the history of the universe much further.
Hubble captured images of two previously undiscovered moons around Pluto in 2005.
2007 | According to Hubble findings, Eris is a minor planet that is larger than Pluto. A 3D map illustrating the distribution of dark matter in the universe was created with the help of Hubble.
The first visual photograph of an exoplanet was captured by Hubble in 2008 when it snapped a picture of the exoplanet Formalhaut b. At the same time as Hubble discovered organic molecules on an extrasolar planet, the telescope celebrated its one hundred thousandth orbit of the planet.
2010 | The Universe as it appeared when it was less than a tenth of its current age can be seen in faraway galaxies with redshifts (a cosmological distance measurement) possibly greater than 8. Additionally, Hubble captured previously unseen evidence of an asteroid crash.
2011 | An examination of the exoplanet HAT-P-7b using spectroscopy marked Hubble’s millionth observation. The publication of the 10,000th academic study utilising Hubble data.
2012 | Hubble images revealed seven young galaxies from a population that originated more than 13 billion years ago. The pictures depicted the galaxies as they appeared when the universe was only 4% as old as it is right now. Later on in the year, Hubble found an item that came from just 470 million years after the Big Bang, when the Universe was only 3% as old as it is now. This discovery shattered the previous record.
2013 | Hubble was used to detect the true colour of a planet orbiting another star for the first time and discovered water vapour erupting from Europa, a moon of Jupiter.
2014 | Hubble produced the most accurate weather map of an exoplanet and became the first telescope to ever witness an asteroid disintegrate.
2015 | Hubble witnessed gravitational lensing in action on a faraway exploding star for the first time, when a foreground galaxy’s strong gravity acts as a cosmic magnifying glass, intensifying and splitting the image into a cross-shaped pattern of light.
Who was the Hubble Space Telescope named after?
After American astronomer Edwin Hubble, the telescope was given that name. Hubble, who was born in 1889, found that many objects that had been mistakenly categorised as nebulae and considered to be clouds of gas and dust were actually galaxies outside the Milky Way. He conducted these observations between 1922 and 1923 while working at the Mount Wilson Observatory in California using a 2.5-meter telescope, the Hooker telescope, which at the time was the biggest in the world.
After discovering that the cosmos was expanding, Hubble’s studies on galaxies surprised astronomers and eventually gave rise to the Big Bang theory for the origin of the universe.
How much did the Hubble telescope cost?
The expense of being possibly the greatest successful telescope of all time. Only the future James Webb Space Telescope will surpass its original construction expenses of more than US $2 billion, and Hubble’s total operating expenditures have now surpassed US $10 billion. In the astronomical community, however, it is overwhelmingly believed to be worthwhile, not only for the top-notch astronomy its observations enable, but also in order to provide people all around the world a view of the wonders of astronomy from above the clouds.