Press Resources: Hubble Science Impact

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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.

The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
Stellar death. When Sun-like stars end their lives, they eject spectacular nebulae. Hubble has revealed fantastic and enigmatic details of this process.
Stellar populations in nearby galaxies. Deep images that resolve individual stars in other galaxies reveal the history of star formation.
Planets 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.
The 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.
Black 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.
Gamma-ray 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.