The Hubble Space Telescope is back to snapping pictures of the cosmos, supplying Earth with its precious allowance of desktop wallpapers. And with upgrades and repairs performed last May, the orbiting observatory is doing science even better than before. NASA shared its jubilation today with a fresh round of images featuring …
Thanks - that made my day!
What we need...
...are "before" photos to really appreciate the jump in quality.
So vast. Beyond my comprehension, really.
Stephen's Quintet is a misnomer
because I only see 4 galaxies, not 5?
...but out of curiousity, why does Stephen's Quintet have *four* galaxies in it?
Riveting - gotta be some little green men out there somewhere, I reckon! Surely we can't be the only ones in that vast, mind-boggling universe.
To quote pickard
There are 4 lights.
@ 4 galaxies not 5
The galaxy close to the center of the picture is actually two galaxies, a bar spiral and an elliptical. Look for the bright central spots, the elliptical is below the spiral.
@Gene Cash ... there are five; that 'one' in the middle is two close together.
Perhaps the middle one is actualy two galaxies? I can clearly see two bright centers...
Look again, there are 5. You should have more faith in the journalistic integrity of your vulture resembling overlords!
As for beyond comprehension, perhaps The Sun would be a more appropriate read?
IIRC Stephen's Quintet is five galaxies, (one, as noted in the article not really part of it), but two of them (see on the right) have "crashed into" each other. I would imagine that if one could hang around for a few million years it would be most interesting to watch all those stars shake out in some form of bizarre gravity war.
Clearly hanging around at a safe distance would be preferable.
The fifth galaxy is to the right of the one in the centre, but has had most of its mass stolen by the one in the centre.
It's stuff like this that convinces me just how insignificant we are - never mind the chances of like out there - how about the chances of a lack of life out there?! Wowee.
@ 5 galaxy doubters
The galaxy in the centre is two galaxies - you can see two distinct bright areas which are the centre of each galaxy.
There really are five galaxies, but the two middle ones are merging and appear almost like a single galaxy until you see that it has two cores.
Re: Stephen's Quintet is a misnomer
There are five in the quintet. The one in the middle is actually two galaxies, NGC 7318A and NGC 7318B that are closely interacting and disturbing one another (and maybe will eventually merge).
The two white spots are the centres of each one.
The big picture
If you're not awed by this stuff you simply don't have enough imagination to even begin to grasp the magnitude of it all.
You can get tied up in the detail of your own life, and it's always good to take a step back and view the big picture. But this big picture is so much far bigger and so much more detailed. Everything you know, and everything you are, doesn't even add it up to the tiniest of microscopic specs in comparison with what's happening out there.
Hubble is doing an excellent job of putting it all in perspective, it's just scary sometimes how insignificant it can leave you feeling.
All very good until...
...the Interstellar Police come knocking on Hubble's control centre's door, and arrest everybody under the pretence of the "Interplanetary Prevention of Terrorism Act". "Sorry sir, you may think you're innocently taking pictures of the cosmos, but we think you're behaving suspiciously. And besides, you may not recognise them, but you've captured a photo of my colleague and that's not just suspicious, that's a crime against humanity (and all other living sentient beings)."
re: Stunning stuff
all the littlle green men are standing _behind_ the Hubble lens, sniggering
I can just about comprehend the incredible distances and scales - but it makes me feel so small, and a tad sad that we humans can't just stop all the arguing and get some perspective.
Pictures of awesomeness.
Go to the site, read the description next to the image. The central blob is a pair of galaxies, so 5 in total.
It's all lies!
There's nothing out there except Heaven! These are all CGI generated. How else can you explain the link between increasing quality of CGI in films and increasing quality of these so-called "pictures" of the universe from Hubble???
You're all going to hell!
...it's full of stars!
That'd be the Universe then.
What happened to Proxima Centauri?
If Alpha Centauri is the nearest star?
my god its full,,,,
excellent pictures there is life in the old girl yet
Quite right too, those damn human beings. I've no doubt they're planning to bomb one of those galaxies. I wouldn't trust em as far as I could throw em. We should stick em all on Teegeeack if you ask me... oh wait, we already did that.
Could it be that by creating and upgrading Hubble, we are inadvertently creating our own Total Perspective Vortex? DNA would be most pleased!
Everyone does realize the original pictures are taken in black and white, color is added later and there's no assurance the color added is actually what your eye would perceive.
"Taking color pictures with the Hubble Space Telescope is much more complex than taking color pictures with a traditional camera. For one thing, Hubble doesn't use color film — in fact, it doesn't use film at all. Rather, its cameras record light from the universe with special electronic detectors. These detectors produce images of the cosmos not in color, but in shades of black and white.
Finished color images are actually combinations of two or more black-and-white exposures to which color has been added during image processing.
The colors in Hubble images, which are assigned for various reasons, aren't always what we'd see if we were able to visit the imaged objects in a spacecraft. We often use color as a tool, whether it is to enhance an object's detail or to visualize what ordinarily could never be seen by the human eye."
Color V B&W
Doesn't really matter right now. These are simply exquisite and once again show what humans CAN do in the big scheme of things...and do the right way. I'm voting my tax dollars to more Hubble.
Yes, they are colorized, but they are taken through various filters. In some cases, at least, they are as natural as possible in terms of color. But, not necessarily in all cases. Colors may represent elements and so forth.
Significance in Insignificance - If a tree falls in the forest....?
"It's stuff like this that convinces me just how insignificant we are - never mind the chances of like out there - how about the chances of a lack of life out there?! Wowee."
Insignificant? I respectfully disagree. Surely the significance here is that we are here to observe these things? We are the *only* observers we know of for certain (granted, its a sample of one and hardly statistical), but to cast aside the fact of our existence and ability to observe existence as 'insignificant' is to understate on a grand scale.
The universe is billions of years old; the light you are seeing is equally ancient. Time & Space are the same thing, and here we stand, in our 28000 year long 'blink of an eye'. We are able to observe, record, study and communicate our perceptions of creation.
We are no less significant, I would submit, than the stars themselves. Without our observation, surely, the wonder of the universe would diminish into insignificance, much as the tree falling in the forest ~ It has no significance that it does, or does not make a sound, if there is no one there to hear it.
Aliens ~ Because they may, or may not, be there to observe as well, and indeed we may be them.
So, so beautiful, but...
... to quote the wise AC on the Drayson story, isn't this just an example of our "mediocre, low-grade, dull-witted, grunt academic 'research' 'work' ... of value to no-one in industry." No?
Congratulations and thanks to everyone at NASA, in the aerospace industry, in the universities, and fundamentally the US, Canadian and European taxpayers who have helped get HST back into shape. With luck those who use HST will now be able to advance their useless mediocrity for a few more years. And when spectacular results show up I'm sure press releases will be sent to El Reg.
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