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Top Ten Hubble Scientific Discoveries

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posted on Jan, 2 2010 @ 03:36 PM
I come across an article about the top 10 Hubble scientific discoveries and i thought that it may interest some of you.

(Oh and i tried to include the pictures but it wouldnt work for some reason)

Link to the list below

10. The Source of Long Gamma Ray Bursts...

In the 1960s, US satellites designed to detect gamma radiation from Russian nuclear testing began picking up huge radiation bursts from deep in space. For decades, no one knew where the bursts were coming from. When the Hubble went on line, scientists were able to track the gamma ray bursts back to galaxies with rapid star production, like the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy. According to Livio, the gamma ray bursts occur when one of the galaxy’s massive stars collapses in on itself.

8. Stellar Populations

While some of the Hubble’s most notable pictures involved looking deep into space and time, it also made some important observations closer to home... if you consider 2.5 million light years close to home. Scientists knew very little about the histories of even our closest galactic neighbors. But the Hubble, which can focus on individual stars in these galaxies, has allowed scientists to better understand the history of our corner of the universe.

7. Collision Images

Speaking of close to home, Hubble took one of its most important pictures of a planet right here in our own solar system. In 1994, fragments of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter, and Hubble provided the first ever recorded images of a collision between two bodies in space. Aside from simply looking cool, photos of the scars left by the collision provided new insights into the makeup of Jupiter’s atmosphere.

6. Counting Planets

Naturally, being the egocentric species that we are, contemplating the mysteries of the cosmos inevitably leads to the question of whether life exists on other planets. To answer that question, we need to know just how many other planets there are. Pictures from the Hubble went a long way towards answering that question. By capturing images of the solar debris disks that eventually coalesce into planets, the Hubble showed that planets are far more common than scientists previously thought.

5. Extrasolar Planets

And while we’re on the subject of extrasolar planets, the Hubble also snapped the first shot of a planet outside of our solar system. Before this picture of a planet around the star Fomalhaut was taken, scientists had to calculate whether a star had a planet by evaluating the star's wobble. With the Hubble, the astronomers could just take a picture of the planet itself.

4. Black Holes

Astronomers had been theorizing that super massive black holes laid at the center of galaxies for years, but it wasn’t until the Hubble actually took a shot of one of those black holes that the debate was put to rest. “Not only did Hubble discover that there are black holes in the center of the galaxies, but it discovered that there was correlation between the size of the black hole and the size of the bulge,” said Mario Livio, a senior astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute and author of Is God A Mathematician?. “Before that, we did not know that there was a black hole in the center, and definitely did not know that relationship.”

Continued in Next Post

posted on Jan, 2 2010 @ 03:38 PM
3. Deep Field Shot

This is one of the cases where the aesthetic beauty of one of Hubble’s pictures matched up with its scientific value. The Hubble Deep Field Shot, the most magnified picture of a spot of the sky ever taken with optical light and gave scientists the information they needed to accurately calculate the age of the universe.

2. Dark Matter

Long theorized and to this date never directly observed, dark matter may make up as much as 22 percent of the material in the universe. Because dark matter doesn’t reflect or emit light (hence the name), it cannot be viewed with a telescope. However, dark matter still exerts a gravitational pull on the light that passes by it, bending the light like a lens. The Hubble was able to take a picture of light bent by the gravitational lens of nearby dark matter, thus detecting the previously undetectable.

1. Dark Energy

According to the theory of General Relativity, the gravitational pull of every object in the universe would eventually slow, and then reverse, the expansion of the universe. For years, that’s what astronomers assumed was happening. Then came Hubble. “Arguably the most important Hubble discovery is that of dark energy, which is this form of energy that propels the expansion of the universe,” said Livio. “We knew since the late 1920s that the universe was expanding, but thought that this expansion would be slowing down. Instead, we discovered in 1998 that this expansion was speeding up.” This momentous discovery came from measuring light emitted by super novae, like the explosion of the star Sanduleak -69° 202a

See link in first post for pics

Hope you enjoyed this list

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