The Sciences

#100: Hubble's New Mind-Blowing 'Scopes

The Hubble Space Telescope's new equipment, including the Wide Field Camera 3, provide even better images of the heavens.

By Andrew GrantDec 16, 2009 12:00 AM
Image: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4/ERO Team | NULL


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

The Hubble Space Telescope demonstrated its newly enhanced capabilities with this stunning image of the Butterfly nebula. In May astronauts docked the space shuttle Atlantis onto the 19-year-old telescope to make repairs and add new instruments. For astrophotography buffs, the most important upgrade is Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), whose predecessor captured many of Hubble’s iconic images, including the Pillars of Creation in the Eagle nebula. The latest version boasts higher resolution and an expanded field of view.

This WFC3 shot captures strands of superheated gas that were expelled by a dying star almost 4,000 light-years away. The Butterfly nebula’s distinctive shape results from a ring of dust that prevents the gas from spreading uniformly in all directions. Its wings stretch more than two light-years across—equivalent to about half the distance between our sun and the nearest star.

See Bad Astronomy's Top 10 Astronomy Pictures of 2009.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month
Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
1 free articleSubscribe
Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2021 Kalmbach Media Co.