NASA astronomers are making efforts to make the most of the Hubble telescope’s remaining time.
This Friday NASA revealed an image that could be one of the last from the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990 marking a milestone for modern astronomy. He now captured 2 interacting galaxies, named Arp-Madore 608-333.
It is a pair of galaxies that in the words of the space agency “seem to float next to each other”, but in reality they are being deformed and absorbed due to the gravitational interaction between them.
The image was taken specifically by Hubble’s ‘Advanced Camera for Surveys’, as part of an effort by NASA to amass archives for future study of Hubble data, which is soon to be discontinued.
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The galaxy pair seen here is Arp-Madore 608-333, and despite their calm appearance, the two are actually warping and disrupting one another through a mutual gravitational interaction!
Discover more: https://t.co/HU578bGIhE pic.twitter.com/872F0eS9LJ
— Hubble (@NASAHubble) October 7, 2022
The latest images from the Hubble telescope
And it is that the telescope has already been operating in space for about 32 years, more than the useful time that experts predicted. This is why it is now getting the most out of it.
In fact, his retirement was expected in 2021, when his successor the James Webb was launched, but the astronomers evaluated that it could continue operating for another period. For now, It is not known for sure when it will stop working.
Deciding how to allocate Hubble observing time is a long, competitive and difficult process, and observations are allocated to use every last second of available Hubble time.
The space agency also calculates that there is a fraction of time wasted when the telescope adjusts to point at different targets. To avoid this, “snapshot programs” were implemented.
That was how they got the sight of Arp-Madore 608-33. Through this program, Hubble’s empty moments will be used, making the most of its available time.
“Snapshot programs not only produce beautiful images, but also allow astronomers to collect as much data as possible with Hubble,” they add.
Once it stops working, it will be the James Webb that will continue its workwhich has been operational since July 2022.
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