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10 of the Hubble Space Telescope’s greatest discoveries

Published: 23rd April, 2020 at 11:31
10 items

The Hubble Space Telescope has been observing the Universe for 30 years. We look back at some of its most incredible discoveries.

30 years ago, one of the most famous and awe-inspiring pieces of technology – The Hubble Space Telescope – was launched.

Hitching a ride with the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990, Hubble was placed in low-Earth orbit, where it has been continuously observing the night sky ever since. Observations have been carried out across all wavelengths of light, from ultraviolet to infrared, which have given astronomers an unprecedented window on the Universe.

So what have they learned from its breath-taking pictures?

Authors

Amy TyndallScience writer

Showing items 1 to 10 of 10

  • Hubble's greatest discoveries: the cause of gamma-ray bursts © NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)
    Space

    The cause of gamma-ray bursts

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    The Hubble Space Telescope saw the ‘smoking gun’ that revealed the secrets of these enormous cosmic explosions.

  • The blue stream of material is being ejected from a black hole at the centre of the M87 galaxy © NASA
    Space

    Supermassive black holes

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    Black holes are hard to find, but having the Hubble Space Telescope in your toolbelt makes things easier.

  • Close-up of proplyds in Orion © C.R. O'Dell/Rice University; NASA
    Space

    Protoplanetary discs

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    Our understanding of protoplanetary discs, or proplyds, exploded with a breakthrough from the Hubble Space Telescope.

  • Hubble reveals individual stars in the galaxy M81, including Cepheid variables that were used to determine that the Universe is 13.8 billion years old © NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
    Space

    The age of the Universe

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    The Cepheid stars discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope has helped us pinpoint the age of the Universe.

  • Artist’s impression of the planet Osiris, which lies 150 light-years from Earth © NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)
    Space

    Exoplanet atmospheres

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    The Hubble Space Telescope was first to detect the atmosphere of one of these alien worlds.

  • The NGC 2808 globular cluster contains over one million stars of three different generations © NASA, ESA, A. Sarajedini (University of Florida) and G. Piotto (University of Padua [Padova]);
    Space

    Generations of stars

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    When the Hubble Space Telescope looked to the stars, it found much more than was expected.

  • Hubble allowed scientists to create this 3D map of dark matter – the distance from Earth increases from left to right © NASA, ESA and R. Massey (California Institute of Technology)
    Space

    Dark matter

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    Something is hiding in our Universe, and the Hubble Space Telescope could help us find it.

  • Hubble's greatest discoveries: how galaxies evolve © R. Williams (STScI), the Hubble Deep Field Team and NASA
    Space

    How galaxies evolve

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    The Hubble Space Telescope was able to find 3,000 galaxies looking at an area of just one 24-millionth of the whole sky.

  • 15 distant supernovae © NASA, ESA, and A. Riess (STScI)
    Space

    Accelerating expansion of the Universe

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    Hubble Space Telescopes observations found that not only is the expansion of the Universe accelerating but is also being fuelled by ‘dark energy’.

See more about the Hubble Space Telescope
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