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Celebrating Hubble – 30th anniversary year

Who would have expected the Hubble Space Telescope (often referred to as HST or Hubble) to still be in operation after being launched into low Earth orbit in 1990? So, NASA/ESA kickstarted its 30th anniversary with some majestic galactic photos.


Five Space Shuttle missions have repaired, upgraded, and replaced systems on the telescope, including all five of the main instruments. … The fifth servicing mission … was completed in 2009.

Galaxy UGC 2885 may be the largest one in the local universe. It is 2.5 times wider than our Milky Way and contains 10 times as many stars. This galaxy is 232 million light-years away, located in the northern constellation of Perseus. Credit: NASA, ESA, and B. Holwerda (University of Louisville)

heic2002 – Photo Release > Hubble Surveys Gigantic Galaxy (6 January 2020)

To kickstart the 30th anniversary year of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, Hubble has imaged a majestic spiral galaxy. Galaxy UGC 2885 may be the largest known in the local universe. It is 2.5 times wider than our Milky Way and contains 10 times as many stars.

HST Galaxy UGC 2885
A number of foreground stars in our Milky Way can be seen in the image, identified by their diffraction spikes. The brightest appears to sit on top of the galaxy’s disc, though UGC 2885 is really 232 million light-years farther away. The giant galaxy is located in the northern constellation Perseus. Credit: NASA, ESA, and B. Holwerda (University of Louisville).

See also: > “New Hubble view of gigantic galaxy” posted by Eleanor Imster and Deborah Byrd (January 13, 2020)

UGC 2885 is one of the spiral galaxies studied by the famous astronomer Vera Rubin (1928–2016) in her groundbreaking research in the 1970s. … She and astronomer Kent Ford examined more than 60 spiral galaxies. They found, in every case, that stars on the outer edges of galaxies revolved around the galaxies’ centers at least as fast as those in the inner regions. That observed fact ran counter to Kepler’s Laws of Motion, formulated in the early 1600s. Kepler’s insights suggested that stars in a galaxy’s outer regions should be moving more slowly than those in its inner regions, just as the outer planets in our solar system move more slowly than the inner planets.

Astronmomers reached a dramatic conclusion about Rubin and Ford’s findings: these galaxies contain mass we cannot see. This missing mass today is called dark matter.

Additional images

HST > An Active Centre

HST Galaxy ESO 021-G004
This swirling mass of celestial gas, dust, and stars is a moderately luminous spiral galaxy named ESO 021-G004, located just under 130 million light-years away. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, D. Rosario et al.
NASA's Great Space Observatories

Update April 3, 2020: YouTube > NASA Goddard > “The Hubble Space Telescope Virtual (360°) Tour” (Mar 30, 2020)

View the Hubble Space Telescope in its orbit above Earth’s surface and an overview of the technology behind Hubble’s spectacular cosmic images. This 360 degree video points out Hubble’s instruments, mirrors, and other major components, and explains their purpose.

One thought on “Celebrating Hubble – 30th anniversary year

  1. See also > > “Giant ‘Rubin’s Galaxy’ stars in stunning Hubble photo named for dark matter pioneer” by Doris Elin Urrutia (January 15, 2020)

    [Image (see image in post above) caption] This Hubble Space Telescope photograph features spiral galaxy UGC 2885 (Rubin’s galaxy), located 232 million light-years away in the northern constellation Perseus. The brightest star in this picture belongs to the Milky Way and is located much closer to Earth than UGC 2885. Image credit: NASA/ESA/B. Holwerda (University of Louisville).

    Andromeda GalaxyThe arms and core of the Andromeda Galaxy glow among a sea of multicolored stars in this deep-space photo captured from the Cumeada Observatory at the Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve in Reguengos de Monsaraz, Portugal. Image credit: Miguel Claro.

    “How it got so big is something we don’t quite know yet,” [University of Louisville in Kentucky researcher] Holwerda said in the Hubble statement. “It’s as big as you can make a disk galaxy without hitting anything else in space.”

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