A* Episode 17, Page 118

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  Hubble's 25th anniversary!Apr 23, 2015 11:52 PM PDT | url | discuss | + share
Added 1 new A* page:NASA released a colorful new image to celebrate the Hubble Space Telescope's 25th (!) anniversary—this composite visible and near-infrared, false-color image shows the 6 to 13 light year extent of 3,000 star-strong "giant cluster" Westerlund 2, about 20,000 light years from Earth (just a little nearer to us than A*, but in the direction of the constellation Carina rather than Sagittarius), a young cluster at "only about 2 million years old and contains some of our galaxy's hottest, brightest, and most massive stars":
image by NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), and the Westerlund 2 Science Team (source)
^ In the image, red represents hydrogen, and blue-green stands for "predominately oxygen."
The BBC's article on Hubble's 25th anniversary highlights the amazing contributions the telescope has made to the sciences, and describes some of the technical hurdles overcome to get the extremely sensitive telescope working, and to keep it operational for an unexpected two-and-a-half decades; indeed, although it will receive no more repair missions, and did lose one of its six new gyroscopes last year, Hubble is in surprisingly good shape, and engineers think they may even be able to keep it operating for another five years, more than enough to last us until the scheduled 2018 launch its successor, the gigantic James Webb Space Telescope. (This is a relief, because originally, with a less optimistic prognosis for Hubble's lifespan, it was thought there would be a gap of several years between the two, during which we would have had no top-notch space telescope!)
Among the other discoveries and achievements mentioned in the article—most, notably, perhaps, helping to narrow down the estimate of our universe's age from 10-20 billion years to a much more precise 13.8—is Hubble's contribution to the science of supermassive black holes: Hubble "provided the definitive evidence for the existence of super-massive black holes at the centre of galaxies."
And let's not forget that it has treated us to the most spectacular photos of our universe ever seen by humankind!
Huzzah for Hubble!
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