Superclusters are used for gravitational lensing observations
Release date: January 7, 2003
Hubble peers through the center of one of the most massive galaxy clusters known, called Abell 1689, shedding light on galaxy evolution and dark matter in space.
OBJECT: Abell 1689
CREDIT: NASA, N. Benitez (JHU), T. Broadhurst (Racah Institute of Physics/The Hebrew University), H. Ford (JHU), M. Clampin (STScI), G. Hartig (STScI), G. Illingworth (UCO/Lick Observatory), the ACS Science Team and ESA
Space shuttle Columbia disintegrates on atmospheric reentry, killing the seven-person crew and grounding the shuttle program.
IMAGE: (From left to right) Mission Specialist David Brown, Commander Rick Husband, Mission Specialist Laurel Clark, Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla, Mission Specialist Michael Anderson, Pilot William McCool, and Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon
First detailed "baby picture" of the universe
February 11, 2003
The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) captures the first all-sky high-resolution cosmic microwave background radiation map of the universe. WMAP is a NASA Explorer mission that launched June 2001 to make fundamental measurements of cosmology — the study of the properties of our universe as a whole.
In January 2002, a dull star in an obscure constellation suddenly became 600,000 times more luminous than our Sun, temporarily making it the brightest star in our Milky Way galaxy. The mysterious star, called V838 Monocerotis, has long since faded back to obscurity but Hubble observations of a phenomenon called a "light echo" around the star have uncovered remarkable new features.
Turbulent gases in the Swan Nebula
Release date: April 24, 2003
Hubble captures a small region within M17, a hotbed of star formation about 5,500 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius. The wave-like patterns of gas have been sculpted and illuminated by a torrent of ultraviolet radiation from young, massive stars, which lie outside the picture to the upper left. The glow of these patterns accentuates the three-dimensional structure of the gases. The ultraviolet radiation is carving and heating the surfaces of cold hydrogen gas clouds.
Hubble finds the oldest known exoplanet
Release date: July 10, 2003
Until Hubble’s measurement, astronomers had debated if the ~ 13-billion-year-old object in the core of globular star cluster M4 was a planet or a brown dwarf. Hubble’s analysis shows that the object is 2.5 times the mass of Jupiter, confirming that it is a planet.
OBJECT: B1620-26, M4
SCIENCE CREDIT: NASA, Brad Hansen (UCLA), Harvey Richer (UBC), Steinn Sigurdsson (Penn State), Ingrid Stairs (UBC), and Stephen Thorsett (UCSC)
ILLUSTRATIOPN CREDIT: NASA and G. Bacon (STScI)
Launch of the Spitzer Space Telescope
August 25, 2003
The Spitzer Space Telescope was launched into space by a Delta rocket as the final mission in NASA's Great Observatories Program. The telescope obtains images and spectra by detecting the infrared energy, or heat, radiated by objects in space between wavelengths of 3 and 180 microns (1 micron is one-millionth of a meter). Most of this infrared radiation is blocked by the Earth's atmosphere and cannot be observed from the ground.
The Sombrero, oriented nearly edge-on to us, reveals that the disks of spiral galaxies are incredibly thin. The disk displays dark dust lanes, where many young and bright stars reside. The Hubble telescope also shows that the glowing central bulge of stars harbors nearly 2,000 globular clusters of stars
OBJECT: Sombrero Galaxy, M104, NGC 4594
CREDIT: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)