The Hubble Space Telescope and the Messier objects
The famous Hubble Space Telescope is certainly one of the most innovative
tools of the astronomers in the 1990s decade; the present author is just
now going to predict (and is convinced it deserves) that it might win the
title "Photographer of the Decade" for the 1990, as Voyager 2 was
nominated for the 1980. Its most spectacular results, together with an
open and intelligent public relations policy of the Space Telescope
Science Institute, has provided astronomers with a great flood of data
and high-quality images, and an outstanding popularity, especially as all
the materials get public domain two years after they were obtained.
The Hubble results have revolutionized the state of knowledge in virtually
any branch of astronomy -- not that every good result comes from the HST,
but as these data are available publicly, they are used if ever possible;
from planets, comets, and asteroids to stars, clusters, nebulae, and
galaxies, every sort of objects in the sky were investigated, often
obtaining most revolutionary results.
Among the most outstanding achievements are observations of objects from
Messier's catalog, as those are outstanding representatives of all types
of Deep-Sky objects. Because not every author has made his results
available to the public domain, we cannot present a comprehensive review
here at the moment. But we have tried to link into our catalog some of
the most interesting achievements.
There's but one fact on the Hubble Telescope's optics which must be kept
in mind: The Hubble telescope has a very long focal length of 190 feet (58 m),
and thus a one degree field measures one full meter in the space telescope's
focal plane, and one arc minute about 1.7 cm. As its detectors are very much
smaller, their fields of view are actually small, so that only photos of small
portions of extended objects like most of Messier's catalog can be obtained.
Moreover, the Hubble Space Telescope is not only an astronomical instrument
(though the telescope makes up its biggest part) but also a sophisticated
spacecraft. As a spacecraft, it has proven to be very reliable, and was
so well operated that the technological operations did virtually never concern
the scientific program (at least up to November 1999 when it shut down itself
because the fourth of 6 gyroscopes failed - only to be recovered in the
third servicing mission, STS-103, in December 1999).
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was originally projected under the name
"Large Space Telescope" (LST) and then simply "Space Telescope" (ST), and
developed since the 1970s.
Indeed, Hubble is one of the more important in a considerably long list of
or astronomy satellites. It is the second of four in a NASA series of large
orbiting observatories, observing in the visible light, together with
the Compton Gamma Ray Telescope (CGRO) observing in Gamma-ray light,
the Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO), and
the Spitzer Space Telescope (SST) observing in
Here's a list of links to the Hubble observations of Messier objects we
could collect with our pages:
We know of more good Hubble results concerning Messier objects.
They are listed below, and we would like to get images and more
information for inclusion here:
Also, there were older images which are not yet on SEDS, e.g. in the slide
sets of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, including more
photos of M42, M77, M87, and others which still await being included here.
Jeff Hester and
Paul Scowen of the
Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, have obtained
gorgeous images of the Crab Nebula
with the Hubble Space Telescope. These images have been reproduced
previously in Sky and Telescope of January 1995, and have provided
some new and significant insight into the internal processes of this
supernova remnant. Some views of fine detail
have been extracted, which are e.g. suitable for computer screen background.
On May 30, 1996, new studies of the same
authors have provided some new insight into the dynamics and changes of the
Crab nebula and its pulsar.
Studies of June 2000 of 1995 images reveal details
of the Heart of the Crab Nebula.
Multispectral image from October 2006, created
from optical Hubble, X-ray Chandra, and infrared Spitzer exposures.
White dwarfs (September 1995);
Old planet discovered near white dwarf and
pulsar (July 2003)
Hubble Views the Hourglass Nebula in M8
Search for Nova of 1938 (October 1990)
Dense Core of the globular cluster,
similar to active galactic nuclei (November 1995);
M15 and its Planetary Nebula Pease 1
- M16: Gas Pillars and Evaporating
Gaseous Globules in the Eagle Nebula
screen sized crops
- M17: Star formation in the central part of the
Omega Nebula M17 (April 2002);
Turbulent Gas in M17 (April 2003)
- M20: Observation of
Star birth in the Trifid Nebula (1999)
- M22: HST
finds hints for planet-sized objects in M22.
A close-up of M27 obtained in November 2002 (2003).
- M31: Discovery of the Andromeda Galaxy's
double nucleus (1993).
Investigation of M31's brightest
globular cluster, G1 (1996).
The Nucleus of M32 (1992).
Discovery of blue giant stars near the nucleus
of M32 (1999).
- M33: Discovery of the hot young giant stars
which excite the huge
emission nebula NGC 595 in M33 to shine.
The giant diffuse nebula NGC 604 in M33
has been photographed with the HST, resolving about 200 hot young massive
early pre-repair photos (1993),
Proplyd discovery photos (June 1994),
Mosaic and closeups (November 1995),
Trapezium cluster and Proplyds (January 1997),
OMC 1 molecular cloud (NIC, May 1997),
Trapezium in IR (August 2000),
Proplyds under hot radiation (April 2001)
Barnard's Merope Nebula, IC 349,
Distance to M45 star (June 2004)
Hubble photos of M51, especially of its core
("X" or "y" structure in the core of M51) have been taken before and after its
repair in December 1993 by the crew of the Space Shuttle mission STS-61.
The HST also recorded
Supernova 1994I in M51.
In 2001, new images of inner spiral arms
of M51 revealed unprecedented detail of spiral arms and dust clouds.
HST image of M57;
Oct 98 HST image.
HST image of M60's center
IR image of M64 central region taken by
Nicmos-3 (PR 99-10 from March 18, 1999);
Optical image of M64's central region,
WFPC-2 (PR 2004-04 from February 5, 2004)
Early HST photos of M77's core (Oct 1990).
The active nucleus of this
Seyfert II galaxy was revealed by the HST early after its refurbishment
in December 1993.
Gorgeous image of M80 from the Hubble
Heritage Project, showing various types of stars including Blue Stragglers.
Cepheid variables in M81 (June 1993).
M82 image by Hubble, September 1997
(processed by Mischa Schirmer), and press release.
M83 images by HST WFPC2.
A massive central object in M84 was
detected in the heart of this Virgo Cluster lenticular when in early 1997
the newly installed Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) was used
to investigate this galaxy.
The "Smoking Gun" (June 1994),
M87's active nucleus, surrounded by an accretion disk.
In addition, R. Mark Elowitz
has provided a well-processed HST image of
M87's jet by HST and NRAO (Oct 1999)
New view of M87's nucleus and jet (Aug 2000).
Finally, we have an older (pre-repair)
image of M87 and its jet.
M91 spiral arms, with an asteroid captured
and discovered on flyby.
Nial R. Tanvir used the HST to detect and investigate Cepheid variables
in this galaxy. HST image of M96
This grand-design spiral was among the first objects
photographed after the HST refurbishment
by the crew of the Shutle mission STS-61 in December 1993.
Moreover, this galaxy is the home of the first
Cepheid variables discovered
in the Virgo cluster of galaxies, giving a distance
of 50-60 million light years, and a Hubble constant of 80+/-17.
However, with the refinement of the distance scale by ESA's astrometric
Hipparcos satellite, this value must be refined by about 10 percent, and
current estimates for H0 are closer to 67+/-7.
- M102/NGC 5866:
Hubble Sees Galaxy on Edge
Hubble Mosaic of the Majestic Sombrero Galaxy.
Central Massive Dark Object (Jan 1997)
Some Hubble images of non-Messier objects have also found their way into our
Links to materials of, from, and about the Hubble Space Telescope:
Last Modification: February 6, 2007