Hubble Picture of the Week

By Phil Plait | May 18, 2010 7:34 am

Hubble imge of NGC 2082; click to engalactinate.Since its launch in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has taken… let’s see… <counting on fingers>… carry the two… about a gazillion pictures of the sky. Not all of them are gorgeous, and not all of them are news-breaking, but an awful lot are really cool but don’t get any press.

That’ll change now. The folks at the European Space Agency side of Hubble Central have created a new feature: the Hubble Picture of the Week. This is pretty much what it sounds like: a new, way cool picture posted once a week. They’ve posted the first three already, like this one:

hst_ic4634

Click to embiggen. That’s the planetary nebula IC4634, a star that was once much like the Sun, but is now at the end of its life, throwing off great gusts of gas in its final paroxysms before fading away as a white dwarf.

The galaxy image above is another one, NGC 2082, a pretty, face-on spiral about 60 million light years away. I worked on Hubble data for a long time, and I saw a lot of images that should be seen by more people, but there simply wasn’t a way to do it back then. With this new HST PotW, I bet a lot of those will get wider acknowledgment now.

Tip o’ the lens cap to astronomer, my friend, and sometime dance partner Lars Christian Lindberg.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures

Comments (15)

  1. DennyMo

    BA, thanks for the link, this’ll be the third hit for me on Monday mornings, right after XKCD and APOD.

  2. It’s a long way to Tipperary!

  3. While you’re searching for some of that “science can’t explain what goes on in churches” evidence you were bragging about, eh, DennyMo?

    Kuhnigget…the gila monster of blogs. Once he bites, he never lets go.

  4. Donald

    I’ve recently re-read “The Hubble Wars”, written in 1991, and it’s hard to believe now just how dismal things seemed for the Hubble in the first year or two of its life, it was essentially being written off because of the mirror problem. If that first repair mission (go astronauts!) hadn’t been such a success we never would have gotten all this science.

  5. DennyMo

    C’mon kuhnigget, don’t I at least get partial credit for *trying* to make sense of what I’ve seen? “Lessee: APOD, XKCD, BA, yup, sounds like a hopeless neocon.” Oh yeah, and “PHBBBBT!” :P

  6. To use dear old kindergarten teacher Mrs. van Nortwick’s ‘s grading system, Dennymo, I will give you a somewhat happy face, but no ears and no hair.

  7. Is there a reason for the planetary nebula to have rotational symmetry? I don’t remember seeing one that did, or at least with it as obvious as this one. Looks pretty cool!

  8. Messier Tidy Upper

    Great idea – I am frankly amazed that they’ve only thought of doing this now. :-)

    Are they going to go retrospective here – one per week for twenty years lesse .. ;-)

    So many superluminous images to choose from – how many images *has* the Hubble Space observatory taken in total and how many does it take on average per day – anyone know?

    NGC 2082, a pretty, face-on spiral about 60 million light years away.

    Also known as the Circular Saw galaxy perhaps? ;-)

    It sure is beautiful tho’ – I’m a real sucker for those spiral galaxies. :-D

  9. Pi-needles

    @6. kuhnigget Says:

    To use dear old kindergarten teacher Mrs. van Nortwick’s ’s grading system, Dennymo, I will give you a somewhat happy face, but no ears and no hair.

    So a portrait of Niki Lauda* then? Or maybe Vincent van Gogh?** ;-)

    —-
    * For those that don’t know he was a legendary Formula 1 driver who lost his ears & suffered severe burns in a crash back in the mid-1970′s – and still came back to win the championship the following year.

    ** Although he did have hair – mostly – as far as I can tell..

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niki_Lauda#Ferrari_1974-1977 &
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vincent_Willem_van_Gogh_106.jpg

  10. Am I the only one who thinks planetary nebula IC4634 looks like a big eye?

    To quote Bugs Bunny: “Didja ever have the feeling you was bein’ watched?”

  11. Pieter Kok

    While I think the Hubble picture of the week is a really good idea, they should have started this ten to fifteen years ago.

  12. Well, they have been doing new Hubble Heritage images monthly for a long time, and http://twitter.com/HubbleDaily digs nicely into the press archives. I checked on some numbers for an article – as of late 2009, there had been 900,000 exposures of 30,000 targets (that last number does not count parallel images taken adjacent to a targeted field). What is new is the speed with which a really nice display version can be made (with dynamic range compressed for viewing and details possible enhanced). Some amateurs have been joining in with great results – check out Rob Gendler’s processing, for example, or the “Hubble Unseen” collection linked from yesterday’s APOD (2010 May 17).

  13. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ 12. NGC3314 :

    I checked on some numbers for an article – as of late 2009, there had been 900,000 exposures of 30,000 targets (that last number does not count parallel images taken adjacent to a targeted field).

    Thanks for answering my question there. I was wondering how many the HST had taken. :-)

  14. Pi-needles

    @ 11. Pieter Kok Says:

    While I think the Hubble picture of the week is a really good idea, they should have started this ten to fifteen years ago.

    Or twenty even! ;-)

    Starting from its very first picture on May 20th 1990 – which was of open cluster NCG 3532 in Carina in case you were wondering.

  15. sherry Raisbeck

    Thanks so much for the link- My favorite!

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