Hubble is our eye in the skies orbiting high above the distortions of our blue atmosphere. With Hubble’s 25th birthday fast approaching (April 2015) NASA and ESA have started the celebrations early with the release of two very special images, images that are dazzling the world.
The first image presents a new view of one of Hubble’s most famous images, the Eagle Nebula. While the second is an incredibly detailed gigapixel image of the Andromeda Galaxy. Both images capture the vastness of space and spectacular nature of our universe.
After many years snapping away up on high Hubble’s latest masterpieces are taking us to places far out of our reach, to the Andromeda galaxy and even further afield to the Eagle Nebula, the Pillars of Life.
The original image of the Eagle Nebula (M16) was released in 1995 and quickly captured the world’s attention, earning it the title ‘The Pillars of Life’ due to the image capturing birth on a galactic scale. Possibly the most photogenic interstellar structure ever captured the image amazed everyone.
Using the new Wide Field View 3 camera installed in 2009 the new image of the Eagle Nebula offers a far higher resolution view and a new near infrared perspective. Released alongside the new image the near-infrared view is able to see through the gas and dust cloud enveloping the nebula. Using the perspective scientists have discovered areas capable of great destruction within the nebula.
With a resolution of 6780 x 7071 (47,941,380 or 47 megapixel) the new image isn’t quite in the gigapixel range but it is stunning none the less. For more information see the NASA article here.
Hubble also dazzled the world this month with its clear vision of our closest galactic neighbour the Andromeda galaxy (M31). At 2.5 million light years away the Andromeda spiral galaxy is far closer than Hubble’s usual targets which are often billions of light years away.
Collected over 3 years as a part of the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury (PHAT) programme the completed image contains over 100 million stars and is comprised of over 411 separate images which have all been stitched together to create the final 1.5 gigapixel image.
The largest image ever assembled by Hubble it captures a section of Andromeda that is 48,000 light years across, only a third of the galaxy in total. For a fully zoomable version of the image see the SpaceTelescope image here.
Not only is Hubble returning many petabytes of valuable scientific data every year but from time to time it also sends back images of such scale and grace that they amaze everyone. This month we received two such images and the celebrations have only just begun.
Eagle Nebula 2014
Andromeda Galaxy 2014