Last week was one full of fantastic space images.
Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (University of California, Santa Cruz and Leiden University), and the HUDF09 Team
As you must have heard by now, the Hubble Space Telescope has imaged the oldest galaxy known, forming just 480 million years after the start of the universe. The compact group of stars was one of the first things spotted by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3, right after its May 2009 installation, though more than a year of additional analysis with the Ultra Deep Field-Infrared camera was conducted before the galaxy was confirmed. "The new research offers surprising evidence that the rate of star birth in the early universe grew dramatically, increasing by about a factor of 10 from 480 million years to 650 million years after the big bang," writes NASA in its press release.
In celebration of Hubble's discovery, Space.com put together this excellent gallery of images taken since its latest servicing mission.
The most spectacular image of the week has to be this "Double Play," taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory. On the left is a filament that erupted in an M-1 flare, while on the right side is a coronal mass ejection. If you have some time to kill waiting for things to load, there are some movies of the event, too. Just to keep the amazing images rolling, here's an image from SDO taken on Saturday of a huge coronal hole.
Some pretty impressive images coming out of Chile, where last week Gemini South Observatory had its first test of the new Gemini Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics System -- a stream of five lasers sent into the sky to assist with obesrvations. The sodium laser is used to measure atmospheric disturbances, allowing the telescope's mirror to correct for them.
Gemini photo by Manuel Paredes Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA.
And finally, some images supplied, perhaps, by you. NASA and SpaceWeather.com are holding a contest to see who can capture the best image of its recently unfurled NanoSail-D. We wrote in December that NASA was concerned the nanosat had not properly released its 100 square foot solar sail. Luckily for everyone involved, engineers were able to get the sail deployed on January 20 and confirm it the next day, thanks, in part, to "the amateur ham operator community ... for their help in tracking NanoSail-D," according to Dean Alhorn, NanoSail-D principal investigator and aerospace engineer at the Marshall Center. The astrophotography contest will remain open while it is in orbit, about 70 to 120 days. Read more about participating here and follow the project on Twitter where they're posting submitted images.