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10 September 2009 

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NASA Releases New Images of Deep Space

09 September 2009

NASA says astronomy is forever changed, thanks to new state-of-the-art equipment aboard the Hubble Space Telescope. The space agency unveiled detailed new images of galaxies far and near on September 9. It said the major upgrade to the telescope in May was a complete success.  

'Butterfly' image taken by the Hubble Telescope
'Butterfly wings' image taken by the Hubble Telescope
This image of what appear to be butterfly wings were taken by the upgraded Hubble Telescope.

The areas that resemble wings are actually folds of gas reaching temperatures of more than 19,000 degrees Celsius.

The gases are released by a dying star that was once five times the mass of the Earth's sun.

The Hubble Telescope's new and repaired cameras captured several images.

The telescope was upgraded by astronauts during a billion-dollar mission in May.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is a former astronaut who piloted the space shuttle that put Hubble in orbit 19 years ago.

"After almost 20 years of service, our view of the universe, and our place within it, will never be the same," Bolden said.

Pictures of galaxies and nebulas (clouds of gas and dust) are sharper than photos taken by Hubble before the upgrade.

"This is nature's telescope," scientist Dave Leckrone explains. "This is taking the power of Hubble and enhancing it tremendously with gravitational lensing so that we can actually study detailed structures and galaxies, that are incredibly far away."

Leckrone said since the repairs, there have not been any technical problems with Hubble.

Image taken by Hubble Telescope of Jupiter after an asteroid or comet struck the planet
Image taken by Hubble Telescope of Jupiter after an asteroid or comet struck the planet
The first photos from the repaired telescope came in July, when it took pictures of Jupiter after an asteroid or comet struck the planet.

Research scientist Heidi Hammel called the improvements a major step for space research.

"With this new beginning for Hubble, we can now see more clearly, and understand more deeply the processes that create, and shape and drive change within our universe," she says.

NASA says the new instruments can complete observations in a fraction of the time that was needed with earlier generations of Hubble equipment.

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