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New Hubble photos may shatter universal beliefs

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    May 1, 2002 New Hubble photos may shatter universal beliefs Paul RecerThe Associated Press NASA, Reuters HUBBLE TELESCOPE DELIVERS THE SHARPEST PICTURES OF
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      May 1, 2002
      New Hubble photos may shatter universal beliefs
      Paul RecerThe Associated Press NASA, Reuters HUBBLE TELESCOPE
      DELIVERS THE SHARPEST PICTURES OF SPACE EVER: Jubilant astronomers
      yesterday unveiled humankind's most spectacular views of the universe
      as captured by the Hubble Space Telescope's new Advanced Camera for
      Surveys, which astronauts installed on the orbiting spacecraft in
      March. The camera can take 17-million-pixel areas of space the size
      of two grains of sand held at arm's length. Above is the Cone Nebula,
      2,500 light years away.: WASHINGTON - The black of space is slashed
      with silvered streaks of stars as two fiery galaxies merge in a
      collision of giants. A massive pillar of dust glows crimson in the
      glare of hot stars, and another nebula smoulders in blues, pinks and
      reds from the light of stellar birth.These views, never before seen
      in such detail, are among the first captured by a new camera on the
      Hubble Space Telescope, an instrument experts say may radically
      change what is known about the early and very distant universe.The
      Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) "is opening a wide new window onto
      the universe," said Holland Ford of Johns Hopkins University, leader
      of the team that developed it.Speaking yesterday at a news conference
      where the first four views from the ACS were released, Mr. Ford said
      the new camera increases by 10-fold the visual sharpness of the
      Hubble and gives the clearest pictures yet of galaxies forming in the
      early universe.The new camera will look back in time and distance 13
      billion light years, giving astronomers a glimpse of the period when
      stars and galaxies were beginning to form after the Big Bang.Mr. Ford
      expects the new images will radically change some basic understanding
      about how and when the stars and galaxies first formed.One view
      released yesterday shows an object, identified as UGC 10214 and
      dubbed the "Tadpole galaxy" because of its shape -- a long tail of
      stars and gas smeared across 280,000 light years of the heavens by
      the gravitational force of a merging compact, blue galaxy.The same
      image, taken in a fraction of the time required by the old Hubble
      camera, captures the light of more than 3,000 galaxies. One galaxy,
      seen as a dim red dot, is shown as it was when the universe was about
      10% of its current age."The light we see left that faint red galaxy
      when the universe was just one billion years old," Mr. Ford said.The
      ACS was installed on the Hubble during a servicing mission to the
      orbiting space telescope in March.Ed Weiler, the associate
      administrator for space science at NASA, said since Hubble was
      launched in April, 1990, the orbiting telescope has rewritten
      astronomy textbooks with new discoveries."It showed that some of our
      most closely held beliefs about the universe were plain wrong," he
      said, adding Hubble's new, keener eye is expected to make even more
      discoveries.Although Hubble was originally designed to last only 15
      years, a series of servicing missions have kept the telescope working
      and it is now expected to last until 2010.
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