Skywatch

  • June 28, 2007

    Episode 107: HubbleWatch for June 2007

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    Hubblewatch

    Shownotes

    Hubble is staring into the galaxy M81, a shining spiral galaxy rife with star formation, for clues to how stars are born in galaxies outside our own. M81 is a great place to study this since it's both a spiral galaxy like our own Milky Way and it's close enough to allow us to distinguish individual stars. We can look at M81 and compare its star formation to what we know about stars in our own galaxy. The icy, tiny object Eris helped demote Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet. Eris, three times farther from the Sun than Pluto, was discovered in 2005 and is a member of the Kuiper Belt ? a ring made up of small, icy bodies that are occasionally knocked out of their orbits and become comets. Eris, as it turns out, is also larger than Pluto, based on observations of Eris' moon by Hubble and other observatories. Jupiter is redecorating. The gas giant planet's atmospheric patterns are in the process of changing, with entire bands of its distinctive surface colors morphing over just a few months. Other atmospheric features are also swiftly changing before Hubble?s eyes.