NASA’s 28-year-old workhorse is still lighting up our knowledge and imagination of the Universe.
A generation ago, Hubble opened its eyes on the great cosmic abyss: viewing the depths of empty space.
It wasn’t empty after all, but filled with thousands of faint, distant, galaxies across billions of light years.
As time and technology improved, we added infrared, X-ray, and other wavelengths to the picture.
We discovered supermassive black holes, how galaxies formed and merged, and how the Universe grew up.
Today, two trillion galaxies should exist within our observable Universe.
Most recently, Hubble released two new images of the ultra-deep, distant Universe.
These are the GOODS-North and GOODS-South fields, as viewed in ultraviolet light.
Ultraviolet light is special, because it shows us where the newest, youngest stars are right now.
When galaxies merge, interact, or collect infalling matter, a burst of new star formation ensues.
These galaxies shine brightest in ultraviolet light, teaching us when stars form.
Even at great cosmic distances, ultraviolet light — even if redshifted — reveals the presence of new stars.
Galaxy clusters, which bend the fabric of space, can magnify and stretch otherwise unseeable background galaxies.
It now appears star formation peaked when the Universe was just 3 billion years old.
But new stars are born, slowly, even today.
Mostly Mute Monday tells the astronomical story of an object, phenomenon, or view of the Universe in visuals, images, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.Ethan Siegel is the author of Beyond the Galaxy and Treknology. You can pre-order his third book, currently in development: the Encyclopaedia Cosmologica.