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New Hubble peers deep into cosmic past, future

A mountain of gas and dust known as the Cone Nebula.
A mountain of gas and dust known as the Cone Nebula.  


By Richard Stenger
CNN

(CNN) -- Boasting a tenfold increase in optical capacity, the revitalized Hubble Space Telescope is taking breathtakingly clear pictures of the universe that should soon usher in a flurry of discoveries, according to astronomers.

On Tuesday, elated scientists unveiled the first images taken by Hubble since space shuttle astronauts replaced the main camera on the orbiting observatory in March.

The photo samples displayed in unparalleled clarity thousands of features overlooked by the previous camera, including everything from galactic building blocks to extremely distant galaxies to galaxies weathering chaotic collisions with their neighbors.

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CNN's Ann Kellan reports NASA scientists are elated over the first pictures taken from the newly replaced camera onboard the Hubble telescope (April 30)

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More new Hubble pix 
 

NASA's David Leckrone called the pictures taken by Hubble's new Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) "remarkable, breathtaking. They're everything we expected and more."

Likewise, Hubble colleague Holland Ford said the test pictures were among the best ever of the distant universe.

"ACS will allow us to push back the frontier of the early universe. We will be able to enter the 'twilight zone' period when galaxies were just beginning to form out of the blackness following the cooling of the universe from the Big Bang," Ford said in a statement.

Among the cosmic portraits: A dusty nebula that looks like a red volcano, a nebulous cloud dripping with a rich palette of colors, a turbulent galaxy that resembles a tadpole, and two spiral galaxies dubbed "the Mice."

The Mice galaxies could offer insight into the future of our own Milky Way.
The Mice galaxies could offer insight into the future of our own Milky Way.  

The colliding pair could offer a glimpse into the future of our own Milky Way, which astronomers predict will bump into the nearby Andromeda galaxy in several billion years.

Scientists reported Tuesday that other new systems on the upgraded Hubble have performed well. A high-tech cooling system is working and should soon revive an infrared camera that has been broken since 1998. The first images could be released in June.



 
 
 
 



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