Posts Tagged ‘Hubble Space Telescope’

Now Available! Hubble Star Cards

If you’ve visited this website in the past, you’ve probably seen the big area on the home page featuring Hubble Star Cards. The space-themed card game puts the universe in the hands of parents, children and teachers.

The game won a Hubble Gold Star award in 2010 from NASA and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) for its inspiring use of the amazing imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope. The vivid, stunning images motivate and engage children of all ages to learn about objects in Space.

Hubble has a unique ability to draw the public into exploring space. Through beautiful images of planets, star clusters, pillars of dust, and galaxies, Hubble provides a crucial stepping stone in the process of scientific inquiry. Hubble Star Cards create a hand-held experience that opens the door to new questions and answers. You can actually hold the Universe, all of creation, in the palm of your hand and have fun learning about it at the same time.

The game includes 60 cards categorized by planets, planetary nebulae, supernovae remnants, nebulae, star clusters and galaxies. The cards include an image, a basic description, a key to the type of object, location in the sky, constellation, and distance from Earth. Possible games include War, Go Fish, Sorting, Distances and Matching. Although targeted for students 8 and older, preschoolers have played many of the games just by using the amazing imagery as a guide.

Hubble Star Cards, just $24.95, are available for secure online purchasing at

I think they are pretty neat and I think you will too.

Sparks in the Dark


Violent things can come in small faint packages as shown in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of the starburst galaxy NGC 3738.

Explore the glowing red reservoirs of hydrogen gas, filaments of dust, and diffuse glow of thousands of stars in this faint irregular galaxy. What shapes and stories do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

NGC 3738 is a dwarf galaxy in the middle of extreme star formation. The glowing red areas are full of hydrogen, the stuff that helps make new stars. Gravity pulls together gas and dust in pockets within the cloud. As the pocket becomes more massive, it begins to heat up until eventually it can become hot enough to fuse hydrogen atoms in a sustainable nuclear reaction. These new stars give off strong stellar winds and ultraviolet radiation that excites hydrogen atoms in the rest of the cloud causing it to glow a characteristic red.

This galaxy is relatively close to Earth; just 12 million light-years from the Sun; meaning light, traveling nearly 6 trillion miles per year, took 12 million years to cross the intergalactic distance. NGC 3738 is a compact bluish dwarf galaxy, the faintest of starburst galaxies. Blue compact dwarfs are generally blue because of large clusters of hot, blue and young stars. These stars tend to be massive, meaning they burn through their supply of hydrogen fuel within just a million years. If they are massive enough, they will end their lives in cataclysmic stellar explosions called supernovae. For a time, a single star can outshine an entire galaxy, releasing more energy in a few moments than our Sun produces in its entire expected lifespan of 8 billion years.

As you explore NGC 3738, you may notice it seems jumbled and disorganized. These galaxies don’t have spiral arms nor bright center bulges. Some astronomers believe these galaxies resemble some of the earliest galaxies that formed in the early Universe and may provide clues into how stars and galaxies formed during that time. As you pan across the image, look for dozens of faint and faraway galaxies scattered throughout this deep image of the cosmos.

NGC 3738, first observed by British astronomer William Herschel in 1789, is found in the constellation Ursa Major, The Great Bear or Big Dipper. It belongs to the Messier 81 group of galaxies, a nearby galactic cluster.

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Arching Eyebrow Frames Galactic Eye


An arching lane of dark dust resembles an eyebrow above a blue eye in this image of Arp 116 from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore this unusual galactic pair. What stories or pictures do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

These two galaxies couldn’t be more different. The giant elliptical galaxy in the center is known as Messier 60. The smaller spiral galaxy is NGC 4647. M60 is a classic example of elliptical galaxies. The massive galaxies are usually featureless, egg shaped galaxies that are very bright. Nearly a trillion stars can make up their bright cores and diffuse halos. Most notable in this pair is the color. Elliptical galaxies tend to have less gas and dust used in star making. So the stars in these galaxies are older yellow and red stars.

NGC 4647, on the other hand, is full of new blue stars. Dark lanes of dust and faint blotches of nebulae line the galactic arms offering fuel for future star formation. The galaxy is about the size of our own Milky Way Galaxy but is a lightweight compared to the M60 galaxy. The smaller spiral galaxy is only about two-thirds the size of its massive companion.

As you explore, look for dozens of faraway galaxies of various shapes through the bright haze of M60.

While the two galaxies overlap as seen from Earth, astronomers are not sure whether the two are close enough to interact. Waves of star formation at the edges of the galaxies usually offer the clearest signs that interactions are occurring. Recent studies from the Hubble Space Telescope do suggest that early interactions, a slight pushing and pulling of galaxies spiral arms, between the two are occurring.

M60 lies about 50 million light-years from Earth toward the constellation Virgo, the Virgin. NGC 4647 is a little more distant, roughly 63 million light-years away.

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Many Faces in Doradus

NASA, ESA, D. Lennon and E. Sabbi (ESA/STScI), J. Anderson, S. E. de Mink, R. van der Marel, T. Sohn, and N. Walborn (STScI), N. Bastian (Excellence Cluster, Munich), L. Bedin (INAF, Padua), E. Bressert (ESO), P. Crowther (University of Sheffield), A. de Koter (University of Amsterdam), C. Evans (UKATC/STFC, Edinburgh), A. Herrero (IAC, Tenerife), N. Langer (AifA, Bonn), I. Platais (JHU), and H. Sana (University of Amsterdam)

Many faces hide around the star cluster NGC 2060 in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the loose collection of stars and nebula. What stories or pictures do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

The star cluster NGC 2060 is a family of stars that are drifting apart. These stellar siblings were born from the same star cloud but now they are no longer gravitationally bound. Within a few million years the grouping will cease to be as all the stars will have dispersed. The nebula is full of little gems besides young stars. Look just left of center in the image. A supernova, created when a massive hot star ended its short life after burning all of its nuclear fuel, exploded blowing a bubble within the cloud about 10,000 years ago. The dark area near the center of the image is a dense cloud of cold dust between Earth and the cloud. Other smaller dark globs of dust blot out the starlight from behind. Fierce stellar winds and blistering ultraviolet radiation from the young stars in this nebula push the glowing gas and dust into arcs and pillars

NGC 2060 is part of 30 Doradus, the brightest star-forming region that we know about 170,000 light-years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The LMC is a dwarf galaxy near our Milky Way Galaxy. The massive nebula is home to some of the most massive stars in our cosmic neighborhood. It is so bright and close, that Hubble can see individual stars offering scientists information on how stars are born, evolve and die.

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Sweeping Wings in a Cloud

ESA/Hubble, NASA and D. A Gouliermis. Acknowledgement: Flickr user Eedresha Sturdivant

The sweeping wings of a dragon or bat shine with the light of dozens of bright stars in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the haze surrounding this young stellar group known as NGC 2040, or LH 88. What stories or pictures do you see? Leave a note below.

NGC 2040 is a loose star cluster. The stars have a common birthplace in this star cloud and will drift through space together. The cluster is known by astronomers as an OB association. These groups contain 10-100 stars of O and B type stars; among the hottest in the cosmos. Usually these hot and heavy stars have short but brilliant lives. After burning out their nuclear fuel in just a few million years, these stars will probably explode as supernovae. The stars lie in a supergiant shell of gas and dust called LMC 4. The shell is created as whipping solar winds from the new stars push gas and dust outward. Supernovae explosions also blow away surrounding gas and dust triggering even more star formation. Thousands of stars may form at the dense edge of these super bubbles.

NGC 2040 is found about 160,000 light-years away in a dwarf satellite galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud. Although the small galaxy is 100 times smaller than our own Milky Way it is home to some of the largest known star-making areas.

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The ancient peoples saw pictures in the sky. From those patterns in the heavens, ancient storytellers created legends about heroes, maidens, dragons, bears, centaurs, dogs and mythical creatures...
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