The Hubble Telescope is the scientific gift that keeps on giving. It is at the forefront of another significant find for astronomers and researchers. This time it spotted the farthest lensing galaxy to date. How far are we talking? It took 9.6 billion years for the light of this galaxy to reach Earth. I’m guessing that rules out a road trip.
What make the lensing galaxy discovery important? Due to their size, the galaxies act as a magnifying glass to see objects behind them. This will allow astronomers to find even more distant galaxies using the Hubble. The discovery of the far-flung lensing galaxy will allow scientists to study the oldest dark matter to date. While it isn’t visible, dark matter makes up a major part of our universe.
Until this discovery, most of the lensing galaxies discovered have been nearby. This didn’t allow scientists to make full use of their magnifying features. This new galaxy, dubbed IRC 0218, is 9.6 light-years away. As for size, it is 180 billion times the size of our sun.
Hubble Continues to Impress
Launched in 1990, you would think the telescope has seen better days. Yet, it continues to be at the forefront of scientific discovery. In addition to the lensing find, the Hubble has been used to find minor planets beyond Pluto. Matt Mountain, director of the Space Telescope Institute at Johns Hopkins talked about learning to push the limits of the Hubble.
“Whether it’s looking for exoplanet atmospheres, measuring dark energy to a precision we never thought possible or using gravitational lenses to push Hubble to look even further back in time.”
In addition to the Pluto discoveries, the Hubble has been used to monitor Jupiter’s Giant Red Spot. It appears to be shrinking, and the telescope is being used to monitor it. Astronomers also used the telescope to find the ‘Sliding Spring’ comet which will fly past Mars in October.
The power of the Hubble Telescope should show NASA that we need an upgrade into the 21st century. Get an even more powerful telescope up there to unlock even more of our universe.