Space Photos of the Week: Hubble Sees Things a Long Time Ago
The Hubble Space Telescope is a time machine. Images like this reveal the earliest galaxies, because they gather light in the infrared range. Hubble is especially designed to look at that spectrum, and these dazzling galaxies were captured by the ‘scope in 2014. This particular photo combines infrared data, which highlights the older galaxies, and visible light, which highlights the newer ones.
Hot Jupiters are exoplanets that are similar in size and composition to the Jupiter in our solar system, but their close orbital period around their host star makes them hot! Really hot. Scientists are studying exoplanets like WASP-121b, which are known as “ultra-hot Jupiters,” They are tidally locked to their host star the way our moon is locked to the Earth, and one face of the planet is always facing its star. That means that the day side is constantly scorched. Scientists thought these types of exoplanets might be able to hold onto water molecules but new data shows that the day sides are so hot and irradiated that whatever water molecules might exist get ripped apart before getting swept away onto the planet’s night side. Scientists think the recondensed water molecules then form into clouds that get swept back to the day side only to get destroyed again.
Saturn’s largest moon Titan dominates in this photo taken by the Cassini spacecraft in 2009. One of Saturn’s smaller moons, Tethys drift off camera to the right, almost dissolving into the haze of Titan’s atmosphere.
Galaxies, galaxies everywhere! This is a massive galaxy cluster captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. There is so much mass to these objects that they warp space itself, creating what’s called a lensing effect, seen here as the wispy circle in the center of the photo. Light bends around this mass, making it look (from our perspective), like the galaxies are stretching like taffy.
This is a map of a star, an OB-type star to be exact, and using the European Space Agency’s GAIA data, scientists have created the first-ever star density map. This 3D model shows the structure of these OB-type stars, the most massive, hottest and brightest stars in our galaxy. OB stars burn so hot that their lives are relatively short, with a lifespan of only a few tens of millions of years, and scientists collected data on more than 400,000 of them in order to create this model.