spectacular new image from Hubble Space Telescope NASA

Credit: ESA

spectacular new image from Hubble Space Telescope NASA

This spectacular new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope of the group of galaxies called Stephan’s Quintet has provided a detailed view of one of the most exciting star forming regions in the local Universe. Stephan’s Quintet is a favored object for amateur astronomers and has earned a reputation as a challenging target for good hobby Hubble Space Telescope. The quintet is a prototype of a class of objects known as compact groups of galaxies and has been studied intensively for decades. This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is a close-up view of the central part of Stephan’s Quintet, giving a magnificent view of a gigantic cosmic collision. Weird, highly distorted features, dust lanes crossing between galaxies and long filaments of stars and gas extending far beyond the central regions all suggest galaxies twisted by violent encounters.

The galaxies float through space, distorted shapes molded by tidal interactions, weaving together in the intricate figures of an immense cosmic dance, choreographed by gravity. This Hubble Space Telescope image comes from the large archive of scientific observations performed with the Hubble Space Telescope. It is a mosaic of two pointing with the WFPC2 instrument made in December 1998 and June 1999. The natural-color composite has been constructed by the Hubble European Space Agency Information Center from individual exposures in red light (814W filter, 2000 seconds), in green light (569W filter, 3200 seconds) and in blue light (450W filter, 6800 seconds). The image measures 3.7 x 2.5 arc-minute 

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.


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