Headlines > News > Just How Good is the "New" Hubble?

Just How Good is the "New" Hubble?

Published by Matt on Wed Sep 9, 2009 6:21 pm via: source
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Written by Nancy Atkinson

“This marks a new beginning for Hubble,” said Ed Weiler, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at today’s press briefing at NASA Headquarters to showcase the images from Hubble following Servicing Mission 4. “The telescope was given an extreme makeover and is now significantly more powerful than ever — well equipped to last well into the next decade.”

But how much more powerful is Hubble? Are there any discernible differences between the old images from Hubble and the new ones released today? You better believe it. Below is the star field of Omega Centauri before (2002) and after (2009).

Hubble images of the Omega Centauri starfield from 2002, left, and from 2009, right.

Hubble images of the Omega Centauri starfield from 2002, left, and from 2009, right.

Here’s an earlier image of the Butterfly Nebula (NGC 6302, or the Bug Nebula) with the one released today. (Thanks to Stu Atkinson for the comparison image.)

Butterfly Nebula before and after. Credit: NASA/Hubble team. Collage by Stuart Atkinson

Butterfly Nebula before and after. Credit: NASA/Hubble team. Collage by Stuart Atkinson

Scientists at today’s briefing said the new instruments are more sensitive to light and therefore will significantly improve Hubble’s observing efficiency. The space telescope is now able to complete observations in a fraction of the time that was needed with earlier generations of Hubble instruments.

Stephan's Quintet from 2000 (left) and 2009 (right) Credit: NASA/ESA Hubble Team

Stephan's Quintet from 2000 (left) and 2009 (right) Credit: NASA/ESA Hubble Team

And here’s Stephan’s Quintet from 2000 (left) and 2009 (right).

Need we say more?

11 Comments
maraujo
I still don't understand why you would flip the butterfly nebula image. The (old Hubble) pic on the right is the opposite "wing" of the (new Hubble) pic on the left. Was the actual side by side comparison not good enough for demonstration. I posted this yesterday and it appears it has been removed. Why have people comment on an article if they cant point out clear inconsistencies.
Sigurd
Hi Maraujo, as far as I know no comment was removed. I'll check with our team as we do not normally remove comments beside spam, hopefully it wasn't deleted by mistake and then we have to find a way to avoid it in the future.
watterlicked
'Comment removed'
Sigurd
When you write stuff like that, we may remove it :p
ldk
Interestingly enough the picture of the Butterfly Nebula in this article, which is an exact copy of the original source article, is reversed here whereas it is not reversed in the original article. If you go to the top of this page and click on where it says "Source" under the title, it will take you to the original article from "Universe Today" where you can see the unaltered image. Maybe this was done to avoid plagiarism? Don't know, but they are amazing images.
lukenm800
Hello, Maraujo
The reason it might be reversed is because, if you look through a telescope, say at the moon the image you see is backwards, due to the reflection off the mirror, if you want to see it as you see it through your own eyes you need a corrective lens. I don't know for sure, but maybe they didn't have a corrective lens on the old Hubble telescope. I do see the difference in the two photos, and that's the only explanation I can come up with.
wm123
I truly liked the way you expressed your thoughts. Please continue to expand rational tranquility. Feel free to drop by Juliet Mae Spices, my place.
caemor
To be honest, those images are definately better.
lunazuga
I made an account on this site just to tell you guys this:

Okay: Hubble doesn't actually take these pictures. It reads what's in front of it and translates it into binary code. The pictures are then "read" by someone who works for NASA, who then uses photoshop to create the real thing. The binary it produces only reads lights and darknesses, so the colors are entirely up to the guy who works in photoshop. No, this isn't a rumor--I go to an art school and one of my teachers knows the guy who produces the photoshop images. Sometimes, the NASA guy gets really conflicted, and wonders if he's bastardizing these images from space because he could be entirely wrong, and the whole world is seeing them.
frakkin
That isn't true. The colours aren't just chosen at random by some guy with photoshop. A lot of the time, they are chosen to have 'natural' colours; colours that we would see if we were to look at it with our own eyes. Yes, they don't always use 'natural' colours, but they have purposes. For example, we can't see infrared light. They may use colours that we can see to represent the light that we can't. As well, they don't just photoshop them. They take many many filters to detect certain colours, such as yellow, red, or ultraviolet. The pictures themselves show up as black and white, but because of the filters that were used, they know that the colours showing up are , for example, yellow, because that's the only colour that the filter allows in. The many different pictures taken with many different filters are them combined, to create a realistic, 'natural' coloured image.
I think you'll find its a lot more complicated than that. Kudos on one of the more elaborate "shopped" comments that I've seen!
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