telescopes

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Design

Cosmic Cliffs Infinite Galaxy Puzzle Features New Imagery from the James Webb Space Telescope

July 14, 2022

Grace Ebert

All photos courtesy Nervous System, shared with permission

This week, the first images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope amazed and daunted us with their inordinately deep looks at the cosmos, particularly the shot of the glimmering star-forming region known as the “Cosmic Cliffs” of the Carina Nebula. The team over at the Catskills-based studio Nervous System translated this galactic masterpiece into a new, similarly expansive infinity puzzle intended to be tiled continuously, with no predetermined shape, start, or end. Similar to its other designs, this iteration includes four whimsy cuts in the shape of an astronaut, a shooting star, a satellite, and the gold mirrors of the groundbreaking telescope itself. Try your hand at puzzling together distant galaxies by picking up the 264-piece jigsaw from the Nervous System shop.

 

 

 



Photography Science

NASA’s Webb Space Telescope Reveals Astounding, Unprecedented Views of the Universe

July 12, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Cosmic Cliffs” in the Carina Nebula. All images courtesy of NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope unveiled its first-ever collection of high-resolution color images capturing an exceptional amount of detail about the universe. The instrument reaches deeper into the cosmos than any before.

Launched in December, Webb is the world’s largest and most powerful observer with the ability to view cosmic bodies like the atmospheres of exoplanets, or those outside our solar system, and some of the first galaxies to emerge following the Big Bang 13.5 billion years ago. The telescope is equipped with a host of near-infrared tools that will help visualize galactic phenomena and celestial bodies that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. Webb is capable of getting four times closer to the cosmological event than the Hubble Space Telescope, which helps scientists better understand how the universe has evolved since.

Preparation for the mission began in the 1990s, and the 6.7-ton telescope is currently focused on documenting planetary evolution and spectroscopic data about their chemical makeup, which involves targeting five cosmic objects: the gassy planet WASP-96 b that’s about 1,150 light-years away, the Southern Ring Nebula, Stephan’s Quintet galaxy, the SMACS 0723 galaxy clusters, and the 7,600 light-years away Carina Nebula with enormous stars that dwarf the sun.

 

The very first images include a stunning composite of SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago. Rich with glimmering galaxies, the composite comprises “a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground,” administrators said in a statement. There’s also the mesmerizing Southern Ring Nebula, which is comprised of shells of dust and gas released by two dying stars, and Stephen’s Quintet, five glowing galaxies captured in Webb’s largest composite to date, reaching a size that would span approximately one-fifth of the moon’s diameter.

Perhaps the most stunning image from the first release of visuals is that of the star-forming region in the Carina Nebula, which shows what researchers refer to as “cosmic cliffs,” or what appears to be rugged, mountain-like forms that are actually the edges of immense gaseous activity. The tallest pinnacles of that celestial body are about seven light-years high.

Webb was designed to spend the next decade in space, however, a successful launch preserved substantial fuel, and NASA now anticipates a trove of insights about the universe for the next twenty years. Follow its movements with NASA’s tracker, Where is Webb?

 

Southern Ring Nebula (NIRCam Image)

SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago

Left: SMACS 0723 captured by Hubble. Right: SMACS 0723 captured by James Webb

Carina Nebula, detail

 

 



Science

Explore 30 Years of Arresting Images Captured by the Hubble Space Telescope in a New Book

May 19, 2020

Anna Marks

NGC 6302 Bug, nebula classification: planetary, nebula position: 17h 13m, –37° 06′ (Scorpius), distance from Earth: 3,800 ly, instrument/year: WFC3/UVIS, 2009. Image © NASA, ESA, and Hubble SM4 ERO Team

It’s the 30th anniversary of the first launch of the Hubble Space Telescope—the first major instrument to be placed in outer space and arguably one of the greatest inventions in the history of scientific discovery. The newly released book, Expanding Universe: The Hubble Space Telescope, is a celebration of this milestone, in which readers come face-to-face with some of the most unimaginable images that the telescope has captured. It also features 30 new snapshots on wide glossy pages. 

Launched in April 1990, the telescope sits above the Earth’s rainclouds and polluted skies, which allows it to capture an unobstructed view of distant stars, galaxies, and planets that make up the rich tapestry of our solar system. Alongside the arresting images, the book features texts that unravel some of the most compelling questions of space and time, including words by photography critic Owen Edwards, Hubble astronauts Charles F. Bolden, Jr., John Mace Grunsfeld, and Zoltan Levay.

Dive into the galactical explorations by picking up a copy of Expanding Universe from Taschen or Bookshop.

 

NGC 7635 Bubble, nebula classification: star-forming, nebula position: 23h 21m, +61° 12′ (Cassiopeia), distance from Earth: 7,100 ly, instrument/year: WFC3/UVIS, 2016. Image © NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

NGC 2264 Cone, nebula classification: star-forming, nebula position: 06h 41m, +09° 25′ (Monoceros), distance from Earth: 2,500 ly, instrument/year: ACS/WFC, 2002. Image © NASA, H. Ford (JHU), G. Illingworth (UCSC/LO), M. CLampin and G. Hartiq (STScI), the ACS Science Team

Hubble repairmen, STS-103, December 27, 1999. From their perch 350 miles above Earth’s surface, astronauts Steven Smith and John Grunsfeld replace the gyroscopes in rate sensor units inside Hubble. Image © NASA and ESA

 

 



Science

Mauna Kea Heavens Timelapse or Three Minutes of Telescopes Shooting Lasers into Space

October 9, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Shot over a period of three nights in April of this year, this timelapse from Sean Goebel shows the myriad telescopes at the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The clear view at 14,000 feet is the premiere location for astronomy in the Northern Hemisphere. The lasers you see are called laser guide stars and they help astronomers correct the atmospheric distortion of light by creating an artificial “star” to use as a reference point. (via Coudal)