The Hubble Space Telescope has had a major impact in every
area of astronomy, from the solar system to objects at the
edge of the universe. To date, more than 3,500 technical publications
have reported HST Hubble results. Here is a “Top 10”
summary of Hubble’s major scientific results.
accelerating universe and dark energy. Hubble's ability
to detect faint supernovae contributed to the discovery that
the expansion rate of the universe is accelerating, indicating
the existence of mysterious “dark energy” in space.
distance scale and age of the universe. Observations
of Cepheid variable stars in nearby galaxies were used to
establish the expansion rate of the universe to better than
10 percent accuracy.
evolution of galaxies. The Hubble Deep Field provided
our deepest view yet into the universe’s distant past,
allowing us to reconstruct how galaxies evolve and grow by
swallowing other galaxies.
birth of stars and planets. Peering into nearby regions
of star birth in the Milky Way galaxy, Hubble has revealed
flattened disks of gas and dust that are the likely birthplaces
of new planets.
death. When Sun-like stars end their lives, they eject
spectacular nebulae. Hubble has revealed fantastic and enigmatic
details of this process.
populations in nearby galaxies. Deep images that resolve
individual stars in other galaxies reveal the history of star
around other stars. Hubble made detailed measurements
of a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting a nearby star, including
the first detection of the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet.
impact of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter. The explosive
collision of the comet with Jupiter provided Earthlings with
a cautionary tale of the danger posed by cometary impacts.
holes in galaxies. Hubble observations have shown that
monster black holes, with masses millions to billions times
the mass of our Sun, inhabit the centers of most galaxies.
bursts. Hubble played a key role in determining the
distances and energies of gamma-ray bursts, showing that they
are the most powerful explosions in the universe other than
the big bang itself.