Hubble fans rejoice. More than a month later, with the camera window closed, the famous Hubble Space Telescope is again capturing images of space.
The famous (and aging) space observatory resumed scientific operations on Saturday (July 17) after weeks of sleep while NASA engineers tried to fix a computer glitch. The work paid off with this photograph, which shows the first two new images of Hubble since its computer problems began.
“I am thrilled to see Hubble looking at the universe again, once again capturing images that have intrigued and inspired us for decades,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “This is a moment to celebrate the success of a team that is truly committed to its mission.” NASA and the European Space Agency launched the Hubble Space Telescope in April 1990.
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The black and white images show different views of the galaxy. On the left is an object called ARP-MADORE2115-273, which is actually two different galaxies captured by an intergalactic tango. It is approximately 297 million light-years from Earth.
“Astronomers used to think it was a collision ring system due to the direct merging of two galaxies,” NASA wrote in the image description. “New Hubble observations show that ongoing interactions between galaxies are much more complex, leaving behind a rich network of stars and dusty gas.”
The second image from the Hubble Telescope (right side of the image) shows ARP-MADORE0002-503, a large spiral galaxy located about 490 million light-years from Earth. If you thought it was just another spiral galaxy like our Milky Way, think again.
“Its arms extend over a radius of 163,000 light years, making it three times as large as our Milky Way Galaxy,” NASA wrote. “While most disk galaxies have an even number of spiral arms, this one has three.”
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The new views from the Hubble Telescope are just two images from a series of test photos as NASA and the European Space Agency work to reboot the space telescope.
Hubble went offline on June 13 after its main payload computer shut down, putting the observatory into a protective “safe mode” during which all science was halted. After weeks of troubleshooting, engineers identified the cause of a failure in the faulty circuit between the Hubble power control unit and the payload computer, and were able to activate the observatory by switching to a standby computer.
Since then, Hubble scientists and engineers have taken test images of Jupiter’s galaxies, globular clusters and auroras.
“I admit I had a few nervous moments during the Hubble shutdown, but I also believed in the amazing engineers and technicians at NASA,” said astronomer Julianne Dalcanton of the University of Washington in Seattle, who led the new photography program. said in a statement. “Everyone is incredibly grateful and we are happy to return to science!”
Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@ or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.