Carnegie Science Center exhibits images from the Hubble Telescope
The Carnegie Science Center now has a new exciting exhibit called “The Hubble Space Telescope: New Views of the Universe,” which allows the public to explore the mysteries of space. This two-month exhibit consists of a collection of space related displays and images, all of which have been made possible by findings from the Hubble Space Telescope. Besides engaging interactive videos and hands-on displays, guests are surrounded by crisp magnified pictures of distant galaxies, colorful nebulae, and planets. Adding to the experience, guests can watch footage of a space crew’s flight into space or even learn how to calculate the distance of a star from Earth. Another highlighted event is the Buhl auditorium space show, where one can learn more about Mars or the solar system in general.
The traveling exhibit’s most interesting feature is the collection of six-foot tall pictures of space anomalies and phenomena. Courtesy of the Hubble Telescope, guests can view nebulae 10 million light-years away with surprising clarity. Within the exhibit, one can see step by step how the universe was formed, how long it takes for planets to develop, and charts explaining the different parts of nebulae and the different types of galaxies. One particularly fascinating display is the specialized space tools that the astronauts used to repair the telescope.
What is unique about the telescope is its sustainability. Originally taken into space April 24, 1990 by the space shuttle Discovery, the Hubble Telescope has been kept up to date by four separate service missions. The Hubble Telescope completes one orbit around Earth every 97 minutes and runs on solar panels that convert sunlight into power. It relies on backup rechargeable batteries when orbiting in Earth’s shadow. The other main components of the telescope are the communications system and the control system. Movable antennae transmit data to storage devices on Earth and special wheels can rotate the telescope in any direction.
The central aspect of the telescope is the mirror array. Its primary mirror measures 2.4 meters in diameter, supplemented by a secondary mirror, which relays light to the telescope’s inner workings. To figure out how far away a star is, the telescope measures how often a star expands and shrinks within a given time interval.
In fact, the telescope is composed of internal mirrors powerful enough to identify an estimated 100 billion galaxies by observing the stars within it. According to hubblesite.org, “If you could see as well as Hubble, you could stand in New York City and distinguish two fireflies, 1 m (3.3 feet) apart, in San Francisco.”
For many scientists, the Hubble Telescope allows the opportunity for a better understanding the universe, even if from a small orbiting satellite. “We [scientists] continue to study star formations. We see these objects and all of a sudden they give off a sudden high burst of energy and we want to know what caused that,” said James Jeletic, Hubble Space Telescope science operations manager at Goddard Space Flight Center.
However, the Hubble Telescope has more abilities than meet the eye. Spectroscopy is a process in which the telescope can split incident light beams into a rainbow spectrum and figure out which elements objects are composed of just by analyzing their light spectrum. The telescope uses this process to find out the makeup of different stars and systems. From this process, scientists can determine where the star is moving, how fast it is going, or even the air pressure of its gas.
Another interesting topic the telescope observes is the subject of gravitational lenses. In space, gravity, in a sense, bends light. “[Through the telescope] you see galaxies that are even further away, and you know you shouldn’t be able to see them because they are blocked by all these galaxies in front of them, but the gravity from all of those galaxies in front bends the light of the ones that are behind and that causes you to see them,” Jeletic said. “You realize that there has to be more gravity that’s causing that to occur from some matter, called dark matter. That proves dark matter exists.”
The Hubble Telescope is named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble, who is known for discovering that other galaxies besides the Milky Way exist and Hubble’s Law, the theory that the universe is constantly expanding. The Marshall Space Flight Center of Alabama and the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland shared duties in constructing the now 16-year-old project.
As stated on www.jwst.nasa.gov, it is estimated that within the next five years, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will replace the Hubble Telescope. The JWST is an improved version of the Hubble Telescope, this time using an infrared telescope system that can measure ultraviolet radiation.