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article imageHubble’s 100,000th orbit finds a jeweled pinup in the Tarantula Nebula

By Paul Wallis     Aug 12, 2008 in Science
Hubble continues its astonishing career as a modern wonder of the world. It’s found a fabulous “firestorm of raw stellar creation” in the Large Magellanic Cloud. A color scheme that would terrify any artist, but it’s Hubble’s stock in trade.
You'd expect 100,000 orbits would rate some sort of big party, but Hubble isn’t famous for its verbosity about its discoveries. That’s rather a shame, because if you think of the amount of gushing about modern art, you’d have to say that these pictures are worth a lot more than a couple of paragraphs.
The science is interesting enough, as Science News, itself not a role model for gossips, explains in one of its three paragraphs on the subject:
Ultraviolet radiation blazing from hot, young stars in the cluster has created dramatic ridges and valleys of dust. The intense radiation has also set aglow gaseous filaments and eroded away the dusty cocoons where newborn stars are being born, unveiling the hatchlings at the tops of serpent-shaped pillars. The region lies at the edge of a dark molecular cloud, an incubator for stars.
The Large Magellanic Cloud is only 170,000 light years away. It’s a close neighbor. Hubble has almost single handedly explored the thing, and the pictures have been spectacular.
What’s irritating is that few things other than the Moon have orbited Earth 100,000 times. None have attracted as much interest, that's for sure. In 18 years, Hubble has done more to educate and inform the public about astronomy than anyone since Galileo and Copernicus. Hubble has turned astronomy into a living thing, not an academic object in a book next to a dusty telescope.
NASA could do with a sense of occasion. So, in the spirit of the occasion, here are a few links to Hubble’s images:
The Large Magellanic Cloud
Hubble’s travels through the universe; a cornucopia
The Antennae galaxies
Maybe NASA’s PR people are asleep, but see how long it takes you to drag your eyes away from this fabulous scientific achievement.
More about Hubble, Hundred thousand orbits, Tarantula nebula
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