• February 22, 2007

    Episode 85: HubbleWatch for February 2007

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    An international team of astronomers has mapped out the dark matter in the universe for the first time. The map shows that normal matter seems to accumulate along the densest concentrations of the invisible substance. Hubble found a blizzard of particles in a dust disk around a young star, helping scientists understand the way planets eventually form from the clumping together of tiny particles. The particles are as fluffy as snowflakes and about 10 times larger than normal interstellar dust grains. Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, Hubble's most prized instrument, shut down in January after an electrical fuse blew. The ACS had lived out its expected five year lifetime, but NASA is currently attempting to identify the precise cause of the problem and decide whether it would be safe to return ACS to operation. In the meantime, Hubble's three other instruments are operating normally. The servicing mission planned for 2008 would add new, more powerful instruments to the telescope.