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    • By NASA
      ESA/Hubble & NASA, F. Niederhofe This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image features the globular cluster NGC 2005. It’s not an unusual globular cluster in and of itself, but it is a peculiarity when compared to its surroundings. NGC 2005 is located about 750 light-years from the heart of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), which is the Milky Way’s largest satellite galaxy some 162,000 light-years from Earth. Globular clusters are densely-packed groups of stars that can hold tens of thousands or millions of stars. Their density means they are tightly bound by gravity and therefore very stable. This stability contributes to their longevity: globular clusters can be billions of years old, and are often comprised of very old stars. Studying globular clusters in space can be a little like studying fossils on Earth: where fossils give insights into the characteristics of ancient plants and animals, globular clusters illuminate the characteristics of ancient stars.
      Current theories of galaxy evolution predict that galaxies merge with one another. Astronomers think the relatively large galaxies we observe in the modern universe formed when smaller galaxies merged. If this is correct, then we would expect to see evidence that the most ancient stars in nearby galaxies originated in different galactic environments. Because globular clusters hold ancient stars, and because of their stability, they are an excellent laboratory to test this hypothesis.
      NGC 2005 is such a globular cluster, and its very existence provides evidence that supports the theory of galaxy evolution via mergers. Indeed, what makes NGC 2005 a bit peculiar from its surroundings, is the fact that its stars have a chemical composition that is distinct from the stars around it in the LMC. This suggests that the LMC underwent a merger with another galaxy somewhere in its history. That other galaxy has long-since merged and otherwise dispersed, but NGC 2005 remains behind as an ancient witness to the long-past merger.
      Text Credit: European Space Agency (ESA)

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    • By NASA
      2 min read
      Hubble Observes a Cosmic Fossil
      This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image features the globular cluster NGC 2005. ESA/Hubble & NASA, F. Niederhofer, L. Girardi This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image features the globular cluster NGC 2005. It’s not an unusual globular cluster in and of itself, but it is a peculiarity when compared to its surroundings. NGC 2005 is located about 750 light-years from the heart of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), which is the Milky Way’s largest satellite galaxy some 162,000 light-years from Earth. Globular clusters are densely-packed groups of stars that can hold tens of thousands or millions of stars. Their density means they are tightly bound by gravity and therefore very stable. This stability contributes to their longevity: globular clusters can be billions of years old, and are often comprised of very old stars. Studying globular clusters in space can be a little like studying fossils on Earth: where fossils give insights into the characteristics of ancient plants and animals, globular clusters illuminate the characteristics of ancient stars.
      Current theories of galaxy evolution predict that galaxies merge with one another. Astronomers think the relatively large galaxies we observe in the modern universe formed when smaller galaxies merged. If this is correct, then we would expect to see evidence that the most ancient stars in nearby galaxies originated in different galactic environments. Because globular clusters hold ancient stars, and because of their stability, they are an excellent laboratory to test this hypothesis.
      NGC 2005 is such a globular cluster, and its very existence provides evidence that supports the theory of galaxy evolution via mergers. Indeed, what makes NGC 2005 a bit peculiar from its surroundings, is the fact that its stars have a chemical composition that is distinct from the stars around it in the LMC. This suggests that the LMC underwent a merger with another galaxy somewhere in its history. That other galaxy has long-since merged and otherwise dispersed, but NGC 2005 remains behind as an ancient witness to the long-past merger.
      Text Credit: European Space Agency (ESA)

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      Last Updated Jun 14, 2024 Editor Andrea Gianopoulos Location NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Related Terms
      Astrophysics Astrophysics Division Goddard Space Flight Center Hubble Space Telescope Missions Stars The Universe Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA
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      Since its 1990 launch, the Hubble Space Telescope has changed our fundamental understanding of the universe.


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    • By NASA
      4 min read
      Hubble Finds Surprises Around a Star That Erupted 40 Years Ago
      This artist’s concept shows the nova system HM Sagittae (HM Sge), where a white dwarf star is pulling material from its red giant companion. This forms a blazing hot disk around the dwarf, which can unpredictably undergo a spontaneous thermonuclear explosion as the infall of hydrogen from the red giant grows denser and reaches a tipping point. These fireworks between companion stars are fascinating to astronomers by yielding insights into the physics and dynamics of stellar evolution in binary systems. NASA, ESA, Leah Hustak (STScI)
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      Astronomers have used new data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the retired SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) as well as archival data from other missions to revisit one of the strangest binary star systems in our galaxy – 40 years after it burst onto the scene as a bright and long-lived nova. A nova is a star that suddenly increases its brightness tremendously and then fades away to its former obscurity, usually in a few months or years.
      Between April and September 1975, the binary system HM Sagittae (HM Sge) grew 250 times brighter. Even more unusual, it did not rapidly fade away as novae commonly do, but has maintained its luminosity for decades. Recently, observations show that the system has gotten hotter, but paradoxically faded a little.
      HM Sge is a particular kind of symbiotic star where a white dwarf and a bloated, dust-producing giant companion star are in an eccentric orbit around each other, and the white dwarf ingests gas flowing from the giant star. That gas forms a blazing hot disk around the white dwarf, which can unpredictably undergo a spontaneous thermonuclear explosion as the infall of hydrogen from the giant grows denser on the surface until it reaches a tipping point. These fireworks between companion stars fascinate astronomers by yielding insights into the physics and dynamics of stellar evolution in binary systems.
      When I first saw the new data, I went – ‘wow this is what Hubble UV spectroscopy can do!’ – I mean it’s spectacular, really spectacular.
      Ravi Sankrit
      Astronomer
      “In 1975 HM Sge went from being a nondescript star to something all astronomers in the field were looking at, and at some point that flurry of activity slowed down,” said Ravi Sankrit of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore. In 2021, Steven Goldman of STScI, Sankrit and collaborators used instruments on Hubble and SOFIA to see what had changed with HM Sge in the last 30 years at wavelengths of light from the infrared to the ultraviolet (UV).
      The 2021 ultraviolet data from Hubble showed a strong emission line of highly ionized magnesium that was not present in earlier published spectra from 1990. Its presence shows that the estimated temperature of the white dwarf and accretion disk increased from less than 400,000 degrees Fahrenheit in 1989 to greater than 450,000 degrees Fahrenheit now. The highly ionized magnesium line is one of many seen in the UV spectrum, which analyzed together will reveal the energetics of the system, and how it has changed in the last three decades.
      “When I first saw the new data,” Sankrit said, “I went – ‘wow this is what Hubble UV spectroscopy can do!’ – I mean it’s spectacular, really spectacular.”
      A Hubble Space Telescope image of the symbiotic star Mira HM Sge. Located 3,400 light-years away in the constellation Sagitta, it consists of a red giant and a white dwarf companion. The stars are too close together to be resolved by Hubble. Material bleeds off the red giant and falls onto the dwarf, making it extremely bright. This system first flared up as a nova in 1975. The red nebulosity is evidence of the stellar wind. The nebula is about one-quarter light-year across. NASA, ESA, Ravi Sankrit (STScI), Steven Goldman (STScI); Image Processing: Joseph DePasquale (STScI)
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      With data from NASA’s flying telescope SOFIA, which retired in 2022, the team was able to detect the water, gas, and dust flowing in and around the system. Infrared spectral data shows that the giant star, which produces copious amounts of dust, returned to its normal behavior within only a couple years of the explosion, but also that it has dimmed in recent years, which is another puzzle to be explained.
      With SOFIA astronomers were able to see water moving at around 18 miles per second, which they suspect is the speed of the sizzling accretion disk around the white dwarf. The bridge of gas connecting the giant star to the white dwarf must presently span about 2 billion miles.
      The team has also been working with the AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers), to collaborate with amateur astronomers from around the world who help keep telescopic eyes on HM Sge; their continued monitoring reveals changes that haven’t been seen since its outburst 40 years ago.
      “Symbiotic stars like HM Sge are rare in our galaxy, and witnessing a nova-like explosion is even rarer. This unique event is a treasure for astrophysicists spanning decades,” said Goldman.
      The initial results from the team’s research were published in the Astrophysical Journal, and Sankrit is presenting research focused on the UV spectroscopy at the 244th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Madison, Wisconsin.
      The Hubble Space Telescope has been operating for over three decades and continues to make ground-breaking discoveries that shape our fundamental understanding of the universe. Hubble is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope and mission operations. Lockheed Martin Space, based in Denver, Colorado, also supports mission operations at Goddard. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, conducts Hubble science operations for NASA.
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      Facebook logo @NASAHubble @NASAHubble Instagram logo @NASAHubble Media Contacts:
      Claire Andreoli
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
      claire.andreoli@nasa.gov
      Ray Villard
      Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD
      Science Contacts:
      Ravi Sankrit
      Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD
      Steven Goldman
      Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD
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      Details
      Last Updated Jun 10, 2024 Editor Andrea Gianopoulos Location NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Related Terms
      Astrophysics Astrophysics Division Goddard Space Flight Center Hubble Space Telescope Missions Stars The Universe Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA
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      Since its 1990 launch, the Hubble Space Telescope has changed our fundamental understanding of the universe.


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    • By NASA
      6 Min Read NASA’s Webb Opens New Window on Supernova Science
      The JADES Deep Field uses observations taken by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) as part of the JADES (JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey) program. A team of astronomers studying JADES data identified about 80 objects that changed in brightness over time. Most of these objects, known as transients, are the result of exploding stars or supernovae. See annotated image below. Peering deeply into the cosmos, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is giving scientists their first detailed glimpse of supernovae from a time when our universe was just a small fraction of its current age. A team using Webb data has identified 10 times more supernovae in the early universe than were previously known. A few of the newfound exploding stars are the most distant examples of their type, including those used to measure the universe’s expansion rate.
      “Webb is a supernova discovery machine,” said Christa DeCoursey, a third-year graduate student at the Steward Observatory and the University of Arizona in Tucson. “The sheer number of detections plus the great distances to these supernovae are the two most exciting outcomes from our survey.”
      DeCoursey presented these findings in a press conference at the 244th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Madison, Wisconsin.
      Image A: Jades Deep Field Annotated
      The JADES Deep Field uses observations taken by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) as part of the JADES (JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey) program. A team of astronomers studying JADES data identified about 80 objects (circled in green) that changed in brightness over time. Most of these objects, known as transients, are the result of exploding stars or supernovae. Prior to this survey, only a handful of supernovae had been found above a redshift of 2, which corresponds to when the universe was only 3.3 billion years old — just 25% of its current age. The JADES sample contains many supernovae that exploded even further in the past, when the universe was less than 2 billion years old. It includes the farthest one ever spectroscopically confirmed, at a redshift of 3.6. Its progenitor star exploded when the universe was only 1.8 billion years old.
      ‘A Supernova Discovery Machine’
      To make these discoveries, the team analyzed imaging data obtained as part of the JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES) program. Webb is ideal for finding extremely distant supernovae because their light is stretched into longer wavelengths — a phenomenon known as cosmological redshift.
      Prior to Webb’s launch, only a handful of supernovae had been found above a redshift of 2, which corresponds to when the universe was only 3.3 billion years old — just 25% of its current age. The JADES sample contains many supernovae that exploded even further in the past, when the universe was less than 2 billion years old.
      Previously, researchers used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to view supernovae from when the universe was in the “young adult” stage. With JADES, scientists are seeing supernovae when the universe was in its “teens” or “pre-teens.” In the future, they hope to look back to the “toddler” or “infant” phase of the universe.
      To discover the supernovae, the team compared multiple images taken up to one year apart and looked for sources that disappeared or appeared in those images. These objects that vary in observed brightness over time are called transients, and supernovae are a type of transient. In all, the JADES Transient Survey Sample team uncovered about 80 supernovae in a patch of sky only about the thickness of a grain of rice held at arm’s length.
      “This is really our first sample of what the high-redshift universe looks like for transient science,” said teammate Justin Pierel, a NASA Einstein Fellow at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland. “We are trying to identify whether distant supernovae are fundamentally different from or very much like what we see in the nearby universe.”
      Pierel and other STScI researchers provided expert analysis to determine which transients were actually supernovae and which were not, because often they looked very similar.
      The team identified a number of high-redshift supernovae, including the farthest one ever spectroscopically confirmed, at a redshift of 3.6. Its progenitor star exploded when the universe was only 1.8 billion years old. It is a so-called core-collapse supernova, an explosion of a massive star. 
      Image B: Jades Deep Field Transients (NIRCam)
      This mosaic displays three of about 80 transients, or objects of changing brightness, identified in data from the JADES (JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey) program. Most of the transients are the result of exploding stars or supernovae. By comparing images taken in 2022 and 2023, astronomers could locate supernovae that recently exploded (like the examples shown in the first two columns), or supernovae that had already exploded and whose light was fading away (third column). The age of each supernova can be determined from its redshift (designated by ‘z’). The light of the most distant supernova, at a redshift of 3.8, originated when the universe was only 1.7 billion years old. A redshift of 2.845 corresponds to a time 2.3 billion years after the big bang. The closest example, at a redshift of 0.655, shows light that left its galaxy about 6 billion years ago, when the universe was just over half its current age.
      Uncovering Distant Type Ia Supernovae
      Of particular interest to astrophysicists are Type Ia supernovae. These exploding stars are so predictably bright that they are used to measure far-off cosmic distances and help scientists to calculate the universe’s expansion rate. The team identified at least one Type Ia supernova at a redshift of 2.9. The light from this explosion began traveling to us 11.5 billion years ago when the universe was just 2.3 billion years old. The previous distance record for a spectroscopically confirmed Type Ia supernova was a redshift of 1.95, when the universe was 3.4 billion years old.
      Scientists are eager to analyze Type Ia supernovae at high redshifts to see if they all have the same intrinsic brightness, regardless of distance. This is critically important, because if their brightness varies with redshift, they would not be reliable markers for measuring the expansion rate of the universe.
      Pierel analyzed this Type Ia supernova found at redshift 2.9 to determine if its intrinsic brightness was different than expected. While this is just the first such object, the results indicate no evidence that Type Ia brightness changes with redshift. More data is needed, but for now, Type Ia supernova-based theories about the universe’s expansion rate and its ultimate fate remain intact. Pierel also presented his findings at the 244th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
      Looking Toward the Future
      The early universe was a very different place with extreme environments. Scientists expect to see ancient supernovae that come from stars that contain far fewer heavy chemical elements than stars like our Sun. Comparing these supernovae with those in the local universe will help astrophysicists understand star formation and supernova explosion mechanisms at these early times.
      “We’re essentially opening a new window on the transient universe,” said STScI Fellow Matthew Siebert, who is leading the spectroscopic analysis of the JADES supernovae. “Historically, whenever we’ve done that, we’ve found extremely exciting things — things that we didn’t expect.”
      “Because Webb is so sensitive, it’s finding supernovae and other transients almost everywhere it’s pointed,” said JADES team member Eiichi Egami, a research professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “This is the first significant step toward more extensive surveys of supernovae with Webb.”
      The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier space science observatory. Webb is solving mysteries in our solar system, looking beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probing the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency). 
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      Media Contacts
      Laura Betz – laura.e.betz@nasa.gov, Rob Gutro – rob.gutro@nasa.gov
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
      Ann Jenkins – jenkins@stsci.edu / Christine Pulliam – cpulliam@stsci.edu
      Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
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      Last Updated Jun 10, 2024 Editor Stephen Sabia Contact Laura Betz laura.e.betz@nasa.gov Related Terms
      Astrophysics Galaxies Galaxies, Stars, & Black Holes James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Missions Origin & Evolution of the Universe Science & Research The Universe View the full article
    • By NASA
      2 min read
      Hubble Examines a Barred Spiral’s Light
      This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image features the barred spiral galaxy NGC 3059. ESA/Hubble & NASA, D. Thilker This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image features the barred spiral galaxy NGC 3059, which lies about 57 million light-years from Earth. Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 collected the data in May 2024 as part of an observing program that studied a number of galaxies. All of the observations used the same range of filters: partially transparent materials that allow only very specific wavelengths of light to pass through.
      Astronomers use filters extensively in their observations. These filters may allow either extremely narrow or somewhat broader ranges of light through to the telescope’s instruments. Narrow-band filters are invaluable from a scientific perspective because they filter specific wavelengths of light that are associated with specific physical and chemical processes. For example, under certain conditions, hydrogen atoms emit red light with a wavelength value of 656.46 nanometers called H-alpha emission, or the ‘H-alpha line’. It is very useful to astronomers because its presence indicates certain physical processes and conditions and is often a tell-tale sign of newly forming stars.
      The data in this image used a narrow-band filter that allowed H-alpha emission through to the telescope’s detectors. The particular filter, called F657N (F for filter, N for narrow, and 657 for the wavelength in nanometers) or the H-alpha filter, lets through light very close to the 656.46 nanometer H-alpha line’s wavelength. It reveals pinkish star-forming regions in the galaxy.
      Data from five other wide-band filters also contributed to this image. As their name implies, wide-band filters allow a wider range of wavelengths through to Hubble’s instruments. They isolate sections of the electromagnetic spectrum allowing astronomers to explore different aspects of the object Hubble is looking at.
      In the case of this image, wide-band filters revealed the bluish patches that hold older stars. In addition, information from multiple filters provides image processors with the data to make beautiful and informative images such as this one.
      Text Credit: European Space Agency (ESA)

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      Hubble Space Telescope


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      Facebook logo @NASAHubble @NASAHubble Instagram logo @NASAHubble Media Contact:
      Claire Andreoli
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
      claire.andreoli@nasa.gov
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      Details
      Last Updated Jun 07, 2024 Editor Andrea Gianopoulos Location NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Related Terms
      Astrophysics Astrophysics Division Galaxies Goddard Space Flight Center Hubble Space Telescope Missions Spiral Galaxies The Universe Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA
      Hubble Space Telescope


      Since its 1990 launch, the Hubble Space Telescope has changed our fundamental understanding of the universe.


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