Happy Birthday Hubble! We still love you!

BGH
BGH's picture
Posts: 2772
Joined: 2006-09-28
User is offlineOffline
Happy Birthday Hubble! We still love you!

The Bad Astronomer had a great entry today about the Hubble Telescope. I still am in awe every time I view the images it produces.

 

Hubble’s 17th: Chaos, birth, and near-death

Today is the 17th anniversary of Hubble’s launch on April 24, 1990.

Oh, I remember it. There has been so much knowledge gained since then, and so much of it due to that observatory! And it’s changed the way the public looks at astronomy, too. I remember when Hubble was the butt of jokes from magazines to late-night talk shows — it was a colossally expensive endeavor, and it was launched with a flawed mirror.

We’ve come a long way.

full image of the Carina nebula as seen by Hubble

To celebrate 6209 days in space, the European arm of the Hubble science community has released the extraordinary image above. It’s of the Carina nebula, a vast complex of gas, dust, stars, forces, and energy sitting 7500 light years away. The image is a mosaic of 50 frames from the Advanced Camera for Surveys onboard Hubble. It shows a region only 50 light years wide… and yet there is so much to see!

That picture I posted above does not do the original justice at all. I’ve extracted some highlights below, but you should really do yourself a favor and grab the high-res version of the image and scan across it. If your machine can hack it, try the 200 Mb version. If you happen to have a Cray lying around, then why waste your time with the kid’s stuff? Grab the 500 Mb image! Or, better, you can take a look at a copy safely stored on a computer in Europe, and zoom, pan, and scan to your heart’s delight.

close up on Eta Carinae

Honestly, 7500 light years distant isn’t enough buffer for my taste. Sitting inside that nebula are a dozen stars with more than 50 times the Sun’s mass, stars guaranteed to explode some day as titanic supernovae. One star, Eta Carinae, is in its death throes, violently expelling gas in eruptive events that are only a hair’s breadth shy of a supernova themselves. The last such, in 1843, expelled two vast lobes of gas — seen in the image above as an elongation in the gas surrounding the star — brightening Eta so much it became the second brightest star in the sky, and it’s nearly 1000 farther away than the first brightest! While those other stars in the Carina nebula will explode in the next million years or so, Eta has far less time, maybe thousands of years… or it may blow tonight. We don’t know. It’s far enough away that it poses no immediate threat to us, but when it does go, it’ll be one of the brightest objects in the sky once again.

close up on a bow shock

Despite the brutal and violent forces tossed around inside the nebula, there are also regions of ethereal and delicate beauty. As gas from a star or a cluster of stars expands, it rams the other gas around it, forming a shock wave. Like the water displaced by the front of a moving boat, the gas shock forms a bow shape. In this case, it’s difficult to tell from where the gas is coming. I see no star at the focus of the arc, no tell-tale signs of a source. Maybe it’s from a long-dead supernova, the original star having torn itself literally to shreds. All that’s left is this ghostly wave of gas, slowly mingling with and mixing into the nebula itself. As it compresses the surrounding gas, it may cause the nebula to collapse locally, forming more stars, and setting the cycle going once again.

close up on a cluster

There’s plenty of evidence that’s still going on in the Carina nebula. This part of the image shows a dense cluster of newborn stars, shining like beacons amidst the strewn gas and dust. These are most likely young stars, fiercely hot, and like many of their brethren in the nebula, doomed to explode someday. The smudges you see are not image defects: those are extremely dense globules of dust and gas. These are star forming factories in miniature: maybe only a few stars are forming in its core. Maybe only one. It looks like its sitting right in the cluster, but it may be many light years in front of or behind it: one of the maddening aspects of image analysis is the lack of depth. I doubt it’s in the cluster; the violent winds and flood of ultraviolet light would make quick work of such a delicate cocoon.

How do I know? Well, look at this:

close up on a chaotic star birth region

This may be my favorite part of this huge image. This is a relatively dense section of the nebula, located above and to the right of the star cluster. See how there appear to be lower-left to upper-right series of alignments in it? Those all point more or less toward the cluster. This knot of gas is definitely being modified by the powerful winds and light from those nascent stars. If you look at a higher resolution image you can see shocks and rammed gas, and outflow all pouring off the dense knots like a snowball being blasted by a blowtorch. This clump of matter may not last more than a few thousand years before being literally blown away by that cluster.

What a place, the Carina nebula! Hundreds of light years across; hundreds of thousands of solar masses of material; stars of all sizes, masses, temperatures, and brightnesses forming; gas and dust blown into all manners of shapes; stars dying, caught in the act. It’s construction and deconstruction on a mind-numbing scale, and it’s all laid out for us to see, thanks to telescopes like Hubble and others on the ground and in space.

In 17 years, Hubble has taken a half million images of 25,000 astronomical objects, producing 30 terabytes of data in the process. If everything goes as planned, NASA will service this magnificent instrument yet again in 2008, and it will have many more years of service. What other images will it take, inviting us to peer farther into the Universe and add even more to our already considerable knowledge?

Or will the Universe itself have something to say about our hubris?

close up on, um, Carina giving us the finger

I don’t believe in signs… but I do believe in humor, and if the Universe has a sense of one, it has a funny way of showing it. But you can find everything in that nebula. Even an attitude.

 

(edited for width)


NinjaTux
NinjaTux's picture
Posts: 265
Joined: 2007-01-02
User is offlineOffline
the epitomy of beauty and

the epitomy of beauty and violence...


JCE
Bronze Member
JCE's picture
Posts: 1219
Joined: 2007-03-20
User is offlineOffline
17 already?  They grow up

17 already?  They grow up so fast!

Hubble:  Your pictures are awesome.  Thank you for bringing the universe to us!  Happy Birthday!! 


Susan
Susan's picture
Posts: 3561
Joined: 2006-02-12
User is offlineOffline
Simply amazing and

Simply amazing and completely inspiring.

There's so much to be learned and Hubble is a great start. 

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server.


Iruka Naminori
atheist
Iruka Naminori's picture
Posts: 1955
Joined: 2006-11-21
User is offlineOffline
Can we bake it a cake?

Can we bake it a cake?


BGH
BGH's picture
Posts: 2772
Joined: 2006-09-28
User is offlineOffline
Iruka Naminori wrote: Can

Iruka Naminori wrote:
Can we bake it a cake?

Well, I am sure it would love a cake. Everything we see or touch is "starstuff" as good old Carl would put it. 


Susan
Susan's picture
Posts: 3561
Joined: 2006-02-12
User is offlineOffline
BGH wrote: Iruka Naminori

BGH wrote:

Iruka Naminori wrote:
Can we bake it a cake?

Well, I am sure it would love a cake. Everything we see or touch is "starstuff" as good old Carl would put it.

Careful.  If you have cake, jce will show up and steal it. 

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server.


NinjaTux
NinjaTux's picture
Posts: 265
Joined: 2007-01-02
User is offlineOffline
Iruka Naminori wrote: Can

Iruka Naminori wrote:
Can we bake it a cake?

hhhmmmm....cake......wait does this cake happen to have cream cheese icing and vanilla cake....cause if so, jce may lose an arm when she goes up against me.... 

No Gods, Know Peace.


BGH
BGH's picture
Posts: 2772
Joined: 2006-09-28
User is offlineOffline
What's amazing is the depth

What's amazing is the depth of the universe Hubble has been able to bring to our planet. The deep field images of hundreds of galaxies with billions of stars and most likely billions of planets, some of them certainly suitable for life, are jaw dropping. The claim that "god" deemed this little blue dot we live on somehow special and this is the only life in the universe is truly deluded.

The first image in the article is beautiful itself, but the later images of different segments of the original are mind blowing....


Vastet
atheistBloggerHigh Level ModeratorSuperfan
Vastet's picture
Posts: 10341
Joined: 2006-12-25
User is offlineOffline
The Hubble has been awesome.

The Hubble has been awesome. I get sad every time they start talking about dropping it, and must admit to pumping my fist every time it's mission is extended. It's had a rough ride, and has done so much despite such.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


Iruka Naminori
atheist
Iruka Naminori's picture
Posts: 1955
Joined: 2006-11-21
User is offlineOffline
BGH wrote: What's amazing

BGH wrote:

What's amazing is the depth of the universe Hubble has been able to bring to our planet. The deep field images of hundreds of galaxies with billions of stars and most likely billions of planets, some of them certainly suitable for life, are jaw dropping. The claim that "god" deemed this little blue dot we live on somehow special and this is the only life in the universe is truly deluded.

The first image in the article is beautiful itself, but the later images of different segments of the original are mind blowing....

The Hubble "deep field" shot is my current desktop.  When I look at it, my heart thunks against my ribcage and I get the same feeling I get when I'm looking down from a vast height.  To think that every light in that picture is an entire galaxy...and it doesn't even BEGIN to show the number of galaxies that are in our universe.

I'm reminded of Zaphod Beeblebrox's trip into the Total Perspective Vortex.  Imagine seeing a wide shot of all those galaxies, then zooming toward a single arm of a non-descript spiral galaxy, then zooming toward a rather run-of-the-mill yellowish star, then zooming toward an insignificant pale, blue dot orbiting that run-of-the-mill star.  A little sign next to the pale blue dot reads, "You Are Here."

It is very, very humbling (except to someone like Zaphod Beeblebrox...and even he needed virtual reality softward to survive the experience). 

Books on atheism, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server.


Wishkah311
Theist
Wishkah311's picture
Posts: 159
Joined: 2007-04-21
User is offlineOffline
oooh... the universe is so

oooh... the universe is so pretty... I WANT TO BE ON THE ENTERPRISE... they got to see all this stuff up close... and almost get sucked into it all.

Ah, the pitter patter of tiny feet in huge combat boots.


BGH
BGH's picture
Posts: 2772
Joined: 2006-09-28
User is offlineOffline
And I will be on the

And I will be on the Millenium Falcon, right behind you. LOL.


Wishkah311
Theist
Wishkah311's picture
Posts: 159
Joined: 2007-04-21
User is offlineOffline
I'll visit you in your

I'll visit you in your millenium falcon... Can I have a light saber?  I wanna blue one...


BGH
BGH's picture
Posts: 2772
Joined: 2006-09-28
User is offlineOffline
Wishkah311 wrote: I'll

Wishkah311 wrote:
I'll visit you in your millenium falcon... Can I have a light saber? I wanna blue one...

You can have blue if you want. I want blue or green, I hate red.

Here is another hubble image. This is a deep field image, each area that looks like a cluster of stars is actually another galaxy containing billions of stars.

 

Here is a link to a better resolution picture.

Deep Field 


Wishkah311
Theist
Wishkah311's picture
Posts: 159
Joined: 2007-04-21
User is offlineOffline
I want one... (galaxy)

I want one... (galaxy)


BGH
BGH's picture
Posts: 2772
Joined: 2006-09-28
User is offlineOffline
... and here is an

... and here is an excellent site to visit to see jaw dropping images Hubble has taken over the years. Some of these are great as desktop backgrounds.

The Hubble Heritage Project 


BGH
BGH's picture
Posts: 2772
Joined: 2006-09-28
User is offlineOffline
Wishkah311 wrote: I want

Wishkah311 wrote:
I want one... (galaxy)

Me too, one small enough to put in my pocket and carry around with me. 


Wishkah311
Theist
Wishkah311's picture
Posts: 159
Joined: 2007-04-21
User is offlineOffline
BGH wrote: Me too, one

BGH wrote:

Me too, one small enough to put in my pocket and carry around with me.

Me too, like in men in black. 

Ah, the pitter patter of tiny feet in huge combat boots.


JCE
Bronze Member
JCE's picture
Posts: 1219
Joined: 2007-03-20
User is offlineOffline
Oh I made a cake -

Oh I made a cake - chocolate, with chocolate filling and chocolate icing with physics fairy dust sprinkled on top to make it sparkle.

 

BGH - these pictures are awesome!!  My personal favorite is the Sombrero Galaxy pics.  I wanna live there. 


Susan
Susan's picture
Posts: 3561
Joined: 2006-02-12
User is offlineOffline
jce wrote: Oh I made a

jce wrote:

Oh I made a cake - chocolate, with chocolate filling and chocolate icing with physics fairy dust sprinkled on top to make it sparkle.

To hell with the light sabre.  I want a Galaxy cake! 

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server.


BGH
BGH's picture
Posts: 2772
Joined: 2006-09-28
User is offlineOffline
jce wrote: BGH - these

jce wrote:
BGH - these pictures are awesome!! My personal favorite is the Sombrero Galaxy pics. I wanna live there.

I remember how intrigued you were when I was describing it to you a few months back.  


JCE
Bronze Member
JCE's picture
Posts: 1219
Joined: 2007-03-20
User is offlineOffline
BGH wrote: jce wrote: BGH

BGH wrote:

jce wrote:
BGH - these pictures are awesome!! My personal favorite is the Sombrero Galaxy pics. I wanna live there.

I remember how intrigued you were when I was describing it to you a few months back.

Yep!  I kept that picture you sent me...now if you would be kind enough to show me how to make it my desktop I would be eternally grateful.  (And by eternally, I mean until I need another favor - HA!)

Susan wrote:

To hell with the light sabre. I want a Galaxy cake!

It was tasty...I'll make one 'specially for you next time I am heading out your way!  I would have saved you a slice, but um, I really don't know what happened...one minute there was an entire cake and the next there were chocolate smears all over my hands and the cake was gone - musta been the cats.  I'll give yours to BGH for safe-keeping. LOL


Wishkah311
Theist
Wishkah311's picture
Posts: 159
Joined: 2007-04-21
User is offlineOffline
Can I have a galaxy cake

Can I have a galaxy cake and a light sabre??? and the Enterprise....Wait a minute...

 

I want it all, and I want it now!

Ah, the pitter patter of tiny feet in huge combat boots.


BGH
BGH's picture
Posts: 2772
Joined: 2006-09-28
User is offlineOffline
A rowdy teenager and Hubble

A rowdy teenager and Hubble still finds time to make new discoveries.

Still doing science!

 

Public release date: 2-May-2007
[ Print Article '); // --> Print Article | E-mail Article Close Window'); // --> | Close Window ]

Contact: Lars Lindberg Christensen
lars@eso.org
49-017-338-72621
ESA/Hubble Information Centre

Hubble finds multiple stellar 'baby booms' in a globular cluster



This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of a dense swarm of stars shows the central region of the globular cluster NGC 2808. Astronomers were surprised when Hubble spied three generations of... Click here for more information.

New observations by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have overturned conventional ideas about the early life of some massive globular clusters, showing that they can go through several periods of intense stellar formation rather than the previously accepted single burst. The analysis of Hubble data from the massive globular cluster NGC 2808 provides evidence that star birth occurred over three generations early in the cluster's life.

"We had never imagined that anything like this could happen," said Giampaolo Piotto of the University of Padua in Italy and leader of the team that made the discovery. "This is a complete shock."

Globular clusters are among the earliest settlers of our Milky Way Galaxy, born during our Galaxy's formation. A typical cluster consists of hundreds of thousands of stars held together by gravity in a compact swarm.

"The standard picture of a globular cluster is that all of its stars formed at the same time, in the same place, and from the same material, and that they have co-evolved for billions of years," said team member Luigi Bedin of ESO in Garching, Germany, the European Space Agency, and Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, USA. "This is the cornerstone on which much of the study of stellar populations has been built. So we were very surprised to find several distinct populations of stars in NGC 2808. All of the stars were born within 200 million years very early in the life of the 12.5-billion-year-old massive cluster."

Finding multiple stellar populations in a globular cluster so close to home has deep cosmological implications, the researchers said. "We need to do our best to solve the enigma of these multiple generations of stars found in these Hubble observations so that we can understand how stars formed in distant galaxies in our early Universe," Piotto explained.

The astronomers used Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys to measure the brightness and colour of the cluster stars. Hubble's exquisite resolution allowed the astronomers to sort out the different stellar populations. The Hubble measurements showed three distinct populations, with each successive generation appearing slightly bluer. This colour difference suggests that successive generations contain a slightly different mix of some chemical elements.

"One assumption, although we have no direct proof," said team member Ivan King of the University of Washington in Seattle, USA, "is that the amount of helium increases with each generation of stars. The successively bluer colour of the stellar populations indicates that the amount of helium increases in each generation. Perhaps massive star clusters like NGC 2808 hold onto enough gas to ignite a rapid succession of stars."

The star birth would be driven by shock waves from supernovae and stellar winds from red giant stars, which compress the gas and make new stars, King explained. The gas would be increasingly enriched in helium from previous generations of stars more massive than the Sun.

Astronomers commonly assumed that globular clusters produce only one stellar generation because the energy radiating from the first batch of stars would clear out most of the residual gas needed to make more stars. But a hefty cluster like NGC 2808 is two to three times more massive than a typical globular cluster and may have sufficient gravity to hang onto enough gas, which is then enriched by helium from the first stars. Of the about 150 known globular clusters in our Milky Way Galaxy, NGC 2808 is one of the most massive, containing more than 1 million stars.

Another possible explanation for the multiple stellar populations is that NGC 2808 may only be masquerading as a globular cluster. The stellar grouping may have been a dwarf galaxy that was stripped of most of its material due to gravitational capture by our Milky Way.

Omega Centauri, the first globular cluster Piotto's group found to have multiple generations of stars, is suspected to be the remnant core of a dwarf galaxy, Bedin said.

Although the astronomers have searched only two globular clusters for multiple stellar populations, they say this may be a typical occurrence in other massive clusters.

"No one would make the radical step of suggesting that previous work on other clusters is no longer valid," King said. "But this discovery shows that the study of stellar populations in globular clusters now opens up in a new direction."

The team plans to use ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile to make spectroscopic observations of the chemical abundances in NGC 2808, which may offer further evidence that the stars were born at different times and yield clues to how they formed. They also will use Hubble to hunt for multiple generations of stars in about 10 more hefty globular clusters.

 


Tilberian
Moderator
Tilberian's picture
Posts: 1118
Joined: 2006-11-27
User is offlineOffline
Thanks for a great thread

Thanks for a great thread BGH! Your descriptions of the Carina Nebula are fascinating and very well written, if I may say so myself.

Theists looking at these images should turn from them, open their Bibles to Genesis, and start thumbing through, looking up descriptions of God and his so-called ultimate power. It's laughable to imagine that those accounts, so obviously those of a primitive sheep-herder trying to think up the baddest, scariest warlord he can, have any connection to any being that is in any way associated with the creation of even just the Carina Nebulae, not to mention the whole schmear.  God is far too tiny, far too limited, far too pathetically human in scope to even begin to describe it all.

 

Lazy is a word we use when someone isn't doing what we want them to do.
- Dr. Joy Brown


BGH
BGH's picture
Posts: 2772
Joined: 2006-09-28
User is offlineOffline
Tilberian wrote: Thanks

Tilberian wrote:

Thanks for a great thread BGH! Your descriptions of the Carina Nebula are fascinating and very well written, if I may say so myself.

As much as I would like to take credit for the article I actually found it on Phil Plait's "Bad Astronomy" blog. It is an excellent article. 

Tilberian wrote:
Theists looking at these images should turn from them, open their Bibles to Genesis, and start thumbing through, looking up descriptions of God and his so-called ultimate power. It's laughable to imagine that those accounts, so obviously those of a primitive sheep-herder trying to think up the baddest, scariest warlord he can, have any connection to any being that is in any way associated with the creation of even just the Carina Nebulae, not to mention the whole schmear. God is far too tiny, far too limited, far too pathetically human in scope to even begin to describe it all.

I couldn't agree more, especially with this, "God is far too tiny, far too limited, far too pathetically human in scope to even begin to describe it all."!!


Mattness
Mattness's picture
Posts: 106
Joined: 2007-04-13
User is offlineOffline
you feel so small when you

you feel so small when you look at the hubble deep field... Smiling I'm soooo looking forward to the James Webb Space Telescope that will hopefully launch 2013. It's teeh upgrade! Laughing out loud

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life. - Immanuel Kant


Wishkah311
Theist
Wishkah311's picture
Posts: 159
Joined: 2007-04-21
User is offlineOffline
I downloaded some hubbell

I downloaded some hubbell photos for my work computer background... It makes me happy!  Smile


Yellow_Number_Five
atheistRRS Core MemberScientist
Yellow_Number_Five's picture
Posts: 1390
Joined: 2006-02-12
User is offlineOffline
As much as Hubble rocks, I'm

As much as Hubble rocks, I'm salivating for the next generation. Give me something with a bigger mirror capable of IR spectroscopy. I don't just want to know there are planetes around other stars, I want to know what their atmosphere is made of.

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server.


BGH
BGH's picture
Posts: 2772
Joined: 2006-09-28
User is offlineOffline
Yellow_Number_Five

Yellow_Number_Five wrote:
As much as Hubble rocks, I'm salivating for the next generation. Give me something with a bigger mirror capable of IR spectroscopy. I don't just want to know there are planetes around other stars, I want to know what their atmosphere is made of.

I agree completely and while I am looking forward to the James Webb Space Telescope because of the size of the instument and the science it will be able to perform, I adore Hubble for the simple fact it is an optical intrument and was able to give the public a vastly better understanding of the scope of the universe.  

I am ready for the James Webb, but Hubble is still performing relevent science, like helping to detect dark matter.

From NASA:

RELEASE: 07-114

Astronomers Find Ring of Dark Matter With Hubble Space Telescope

WASHINGTON - Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have discovered a ghostly ring of dark matter that formed long ago during a titanic collision between two galaxy clusters. Dark matter makes up most of the universe's material. Ordinary matter, which makes up stars and planets, comprises only a small percent of the universe's matter. The ring's discovery is among the strongest evidence yet that dark matter exists.

Astronomers have long suspected the existence of the invisible substance and theorized that it is the source of additional gravity that holds galaxy clusters together. Such clusters would fly apart if they relied only on the gravity from their visible stars. Although astronomers do not know what composes dark matter, they hypothesize that it is a type of elementary particle that pervades the universe.

"This is the first time we have detected dark matter as having a unique structure that is different from both the gas and the galaxies in the cluster," said astronomer M. James Jee of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Jee is a member of the team that spotted the dark matter ring.

The ring, which measures 2.6 million light-years across, was found in the cluster CL0024+17, located 5 billion light-years from Earth. The team unexpectedly found the ring while it was mapping the distribution of dark matter within the cluster. Although astronomers cannot see dark matter, they can infer its existence in galaxy clusters by observing how its gravity bends the light of more distant background galaxies. During the team's analysis, they noticed a ripple in the mysterious substance, somewhat like the ripples created in a pond from a stone plopping into the water.

Jee said, "Although the invisible matter has been found before in other galaxy clusters, it has never been detected to be so largely separated from the hot gas and the galaxies that make up galaxy clusters. By seeing a dark matter structure that is not traced by galaxies and hot gas, we can study how it behaves differently from normal matter."

Jee explained, "I was annoyed when I saw the ring because I thought it was an artifact, which would have implied a flaw in our data reduction. I couldn't believe my result. But the more I tried to remove the ring, the more it showed up. It took more than a year to convince myself that the ring was real. I have looked at a number of clusters, and I haven't seen anything like this."

Curious about why the ring was in the cluster and how it had formed, Jee found previous research that suggested the cluster had collided with another cluster 1 to 2 billion years ago. The research, published in 2002 by Oliver Czoske of the Argelander-Institute for Astronomy at the University of Bonn, was based on spectroscopic observations of the cluster's three-dimensional structure. The study revealed two distinct groupings of galaxies clusters, indicating a collision between two clusters.

Astronomers have a head-on view of the collision because it occurred along Earth's line of sight. From this perspective, the dark-matter structure looks like a ring.

The team created simulations showing what happens when galaxy clusters collide. As the two clusters smash together, the dark matter, as calculated in the simulations, falls to the center of the combined cluster and sloshes back out. As the dark matter moves outward, it begins to slow down under the pull of gravity and pile up, like cars bunched up on a freeway.

"By studying this collision, we are seeing how dark matter responds to gravity," said team member Holland Ford, also of Johns Hopkins University. "Nature is doing an experiment for us that we can't do in a lab, and it agrees with our theoretical models."

Tracing dark matter is not an easy task because it does not shine or reflect light. Astronomers can detect its influence only by how its gravity affects light. To find dark matter, astronomers study how faint light from more distant galaxies is distorted and smeared into arcs and streaks by the gravity of the dark matter in a foreground galaxy cluster. This powerful phenomenon is called gravitational lensing. By mapping the distorted light, astronomers can deduce the cluster's mass and trace how dark matter is distributed in the cluster.

"The collision between the two galaxy clusters created a ripple of dark matter that left distinct footprints in the shapes of the background galaxies," Jee explained. "It's like looking at the pebbles on the bottom of a pond with ripples on the surface. The pebbles' shapes appear to change as the ripples pass over them. So, too, the background galaxies behind the ring show coherent changes in their shapes due to the presence of the dense ring."

Jee and his colleagues used Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys to look behind the cluster to detect the faint, distorted, faraway galaxies that cannot be resolved with ground-based telescopes. "Hubble's exquisite images and unparalleled sensitivity to faint galaxies make it the only tool for this measurement," said team member Richard White of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

Previously, observations of the Bullet Cluster with Hubble and the Chandra X-ray Observatory presented a sideways view of a similar encounter between two galaxy clusters. In that collision, the dark matter was pulled apart from the hot cluster gas, but the dark matter still followed the distribution of cluster galaxies. CL0024+17 is the first cluster to show a dark matter distribution that differs from the distribution of both the galaxies and the hot gas.

The team's paper has been accepted for publication in the June 1 issue of Astrophysical Journal.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. The Space Telescope Science Institute conducts Hubble science operations. The institute is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., Washington.

 


Wishkah311
Theist
Wishkah311's picture
Posts: 159
Joined: 2007-04-21
User is offlineOffline
BGH wrote: Astronomers

BGH wrote:



Astronomers Find Ring of Dark Matter With Hubble Space Telescope

 

I read that article!  But there is one thing I wasn't clear on.  Is the picture really of dark matter in the way of "Look there's dark matter!" or is it more a picture of the universe's reaction to dark matter.  Like the wind.  You can't take a picture of wind, you can only take a picture of the effect wind has on everything.  Does that make any sense?  I think I am asking if you can see dark matter like you can see a coffee cup, or if it is invisible like black holes?  

Ah, the pitter patter of tiny feet in huge combat boots.


BGH
BGH's picture
Posts: 2772
Joined: 2006-09-28
User is offlineOffline
Wishkah311 wrote: I read

Wishkah311 wrote:

I read that article! But there is one thing I wasn't clear on. Is the picture really of dark matter in the way of "Look there's dark matter!" or is it more a picture of the universe's reaction to dark matter. Like the wind. You can't take a picture of wind, you can only take a picture of the effect wind has on everything. Does that make any sense? I think I am asking if you can see dark matter like you can see a coffee cup, or if it is invisible like black holes?

It is not a an actual picture OF dark matter. There was interference in the image that they later inferred was dark matter. The scientists were actually a little annoyed at first. 

Quote:
Jee explained, "I was annoyed when I saw the ring because I thought it was an artifact, which would have implied a flaw in our data reduction. I couldn't believe my result. But the more I tried to remove the ring, the more it showed up. It took more than a year to convince myself that the ring was real. I have looked at a number of clusters, and I haven't seen anything like this."

So, to answer your question it is like inferring the wind, you can observe the effects of the dark matter. LOL.

Good question Wishkah. 


Wishkah311
Theist
Wishkah311's picture
Posts: 159
Joined: 2007-04-21
User is offlineOffline
Why thank you... I do try. 

Why thank you... I do try.  Smile


BGH
BGH's picture
Posts: 2772
Joined: 2006-09-28
User is offlineOffline
Hubble is still turning out

Hubble is still turning out some great science. The highly elliptical disk fits with models astronomers have used to explain Neptune's exaggerated orbit.

 


Astronomers Find Highly Elliptical Disk Around Young Star

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope and W. M. Keck Observatory have found a lopsided debris disk around a young star known as HD 15115. As seen from Earth, the edge-on disk resembles a needle sticking out from the star.

Astronomers think the disk's odd imbalanced look is caused by dust following a highly elliptical orbit about the star. The lopsided disk may have been caused by the gravity of planets sweeping up debris in the disk or by the gravity of a nearby star.

The observations were made by Paul Kalas, James Graham, and Michael P. Fitzgerald, all from the University of California at Berkeley. Their paper appeared in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

"The lopsided disk presents a host of new challenges for theorists," said Kalas.

Debris disks are produced by dust from collisions among protoplanetary bodies, which are the building blocks of planets. These dusty disks can be affected by planets nearer to the star, much as Jupiter's gravity affects asteroids in the asteroid belt.

This discovery is consistent with models for planetary upheavals in our own solar system, where Neptune may have originally formed between Saturn and Uranus. Neptune was eventually kicked out to its present location by a gravitational dance between Saturn and Jupiter before their orbits stabilized. "Therefore, we speculate that if such a planetary upheaval were occurring around HD 15115 at the present time, it could explain the highly asymmetric disk," Kalas said.

This might happen through a powerful gravitational interaction between planets that kicks one or more planets into highly elliptical orbits, or even ejects them into interstellar space. When the planet's orbit becomes elliptical through a violent upheaval, the rest of the disk can be disturbed into an elliptical shape, according to Kalas.

Kalas also is studying whether the gravity of a star known as HIP 12545, located about 10 light-years from HD 15115, may have created the disk's lopsided shape due to a close encounter in the past.

Dusty disks are known to exist around at least 100 stars, but because of the difficulty in observing material within the glare of a star, less than a dozen have been studied closely.

HD 15115 and HIP 12545 are among nearly 30 stars that belong to the Beta Pictoris Moving Group. Moving groups are expanded clusters of stars believed to have a common birthplace and age that are traveling loosely together through space.

The dusty disk around HD 15115 was first inferred by observations at infrared wavelengths in 2000 and its existence confirmed in 2006 when the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) resolved the disk in reflected light for the first time. The disk was investigated further using Keck adaptive optics in 2006 and 2007.

"The disk was seen in the HST data, but its appearance was so extraordinary we could not be certain that it was real. It took follow-up observations at Keck to confirm that it was a real disk," Kalas said.

CONTACT

For more information, contact:

Dr. Paul Kalas
University of California, Berkeley, Calif.,
510-642-8285; kalas@astron.berkeley.edu or

Dr. Michael P. Fitzgerald
University of California,
Berkeley, Calif., 510-643-8530; fitz@astron.berkeley.edu


Technical facts about this news release:

About the Object
Object Name: HD 15115
Object Description: Star with Debris Disk
Position (J2000): R.A. 02h 26m 16s.28
Dec. +06° 17' 32".9
Constellation: Cetus
Distance: 150 light-years (45 parsecs)
Dimensions: This image is 23 arcseconds (roughly 1000 Astronomical Units) across.
About the Data
Data Description: This image was created from data from the HST proposal 10896: P. Kalas, J. Graham, M. Fitzgerald (University of California, Berkeley).
Instrument: ACS/HRC
Exposure Date(s): July 17, 2006
Exposure Time: 35 minutes
Filters: F606W (V)
About the Image
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and P. Kalas (University of California, Berkeley)
Orientation/Scale:  Annotated