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Hubble Space Telescope Investigating a Made-to-Measure Galaxy

Hubble Space Telescope image of NGC 7038, a spiral galaxy located approximately 220 million light-years from Earth. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, D. Jones, Acknowledgment: G. Anand, L. Shatz

This image from the Hubble Space TelescopeThe Hubble Space Telescope (often referred to as Hubble or HST) is one of NASA's Great Observatories and was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990. It is one of the largest and most versatile space telescopes in use and features a 2.4-meter mirror and four main instruments that observe in the ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. It was named after astronomer Edwin Hubble.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>Hubble Space Telescope shows the spiral arms of the galaxy NGC 7038 winding languidly across space. Located about 220 million light-years from Earth, NGC 7038  lies in the southern constellation Indus.

With an incredibly rich and intricately detailed view of a spiral galaxy, this image also exposes a huge number of distant stars and galaxies around it. That’s because it’s made from a combined 15 hours worth of NASAEstablished in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is "To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity." Its core values are "safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion."” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>NASA/ESA Hubble time focused on NGC 7038 and collecting light. So much data indicates that this is a valuable target, and indeed, NGC 7038 has been particularly helpful to astronomers measuring distances at vast cosmic scales.

Using an interconnected chain of measurement techniques called the Cosmic Distance Ladder, researchers are able to determine distances to astronomical objects. Each rung in the ladder is calibrated by earlier steps, based on measurements of objects closer to us. Therefore, the accuracyHow close the measured value conforms to the correct value.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>accuracy of distances at the largest scales is dependent on how accurately distances to nearby objects can be determined. Hubble inspected NGC 7038 with its Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) to calibrate two of the most common distance measurement techniques: type 1A supernovae and Cepheid variables. 

One of Hubble’s original science goals was to accurately establish distances to night-sky objects, and throughout the course of its three decades of operation, Hubble’s increasingly precise distance measurements have contributed to one of the most intriguing unsolved problems in astronomy. The Hubble constant, which captures the rate of expansion of the Universe, is derived from distance measurements. 

As astronomers’ measurements of the Hubble constant have become more precise, their value has become increasingly inconsistent with the value of the Hubble Constant derived from observations of the Big BangThe Big Bang is the leading cosmological model explaining how the universe as we know it began approximately 13.8 billion years ago.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>Big Bang’s afterglow. Astronomers have been unable to explain the mismatch between the two values of the Hubble constant, which suggests that a new discovery in cosmology is waiting to be made.

Source: SciTechDaily