Image via Asgardia.Space
The Hubble Space Telescope explores the universe 24 hours a day. That means it has observed some fascinating cosmic wonder even on your birthday.
Image via Asgardia.Space
The Hubble Telescope was launched in April 1990 and celebrated its 30th “birthday” (or anniversary, if you will) earlier this year. Hubble continues to explore the universe 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
That means it has observed some fascinating cosmic wonder every day of the year, including on your birthday. And there is a way to see what Hubble was looking at on the day you levelled up.
It’s easy: all you need to do is enter the month and date on NASA’s dedicated website to find out. NASA asks that you share the results on social media using the hashtag #Hubble30.
On my birthday in 1999, Hubble captured the Swan Nebula, which is also described as “a hotbed of star formation”. The wave-like patterns of gas have been sculpted and illuminated by a torrent of ultraviolet radiation.
Isn’t it beautiful? And it has all my favourite colours too. Simply head over to this link, enter your birth date and see what Hubble snapped. Alternatively, NASA also compiled a text version with links to all images.
If your birthday is on 18 March, for example, Hubble was looking at the Messier 101 pinwheel galaxy. The image was taken in visible light and the bright blue clumps are regions where new stars have formed.
And if your birthday is on, say, 23 August, then your lucky image is the massive galaxy cluster Abell 2744. It shows some of the faintest and youngest galaxies ever detected in space.
Fun fact, the Abell 2744 cluster contains several hundred galaxies as they looked approximately 3.5 billion years ago. Furthermore, NASA explains that the “immense gravity in Abell 2744 acts as a gravitational lens to warp space”.
“[The immense gravity brightens and magnifies] images of nearly 3 000 distant background galaxies. The more distant galaxies appear as they did longer than 12 billion years ago, not long after the big bang”.
Hubble observes the universe in near-ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared light. In addition, the telescope has revolutionised astronomy and astrophysics with its discoveries.
Unlike any other telescope before it, Hubble has made astronomy relevant, engaging, and accessible for people of all ages. To date, it’s yielded more than 1.4 million observations.
Hubble’s deep-field views also help astronomers trace the expansion of the universe, with the galaxies showing when the chemical elements originated and led to the conditions that made life possible.
In July 2019, the Hubble Space Telescope also discovered a mysterious supermassive black hole disc at the heart of a spiral galaxy some 130m light-years away. Read more about it here.
Also read: Betelgeuse is dimming – Hubble Space Telescope uncovers the mystery