May I have permission to use your images?

Please refer to our copyright policy.

I saw something unusual in the sky. Can you explain it?

The kind of observations Hubble makes from space are very different from the types of sights we see from the ground. But your local astronomy club is usually an excellent place to have this question answered.

This link can help you find one:

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/community/organizations

You can also check our monthly stargazing show, Tonight's Sky, which rounds up the top astronomical sights of the month.

Can I have Hubble images or news e-mailed to me?

Yes. Please join our e-mail list.

You can also stay connected with Hubble through our Facebook page or YouTube channel, our find us on Twitter @HubbleTelescope and @HubbleDaily

Hubble should be in a museum at the end of its life. Why won't you bring it back to Earth once it stops working?

NASA has considered the possibility of bringing Hubble back to be exhibited at the Smithsonian, but there are two main reasons why this is not considered feasible.

First, Hubble was specifically designed to function with the space shuttle. Since the shuttle program is expected to be retired in the near future, and Hubble is expected to function at least until 2014, no shuttles will be available to bring it back. Second, shuttle missions have risks, and while everyone would like a museum exhibit, it's not a worthwhile risk to send astronauts out for that sole purpose. The last visit to Hubble is expected to take place via an robotic spacecraft, which will attach a propulsion module to the telescope to guide it through its de-orbit.

Instead of letting Hubble burn up in the atmosphere, why not just push it out of its orbit so it can continue to take pictures as it drifts away?

Hubble will be used up until the point at which its instruments no longer function, which means the telescope will not be de-orbited until it has finished its useful lifetime as an astronomical observatory. When Hubble is no longer able to provide forefront science, it will be shut down. Sending Hubble into a higher orbit at that time will not provide any added benefit.

Can the upcoming Webb Telescope be serviced like Hubble?

At its distant orbit, Webb is much too far from Earth to be reached by the space shuttle. Webb's science mission length is 5 years with a 10 year goal. To insure the 5 year mission, NASA has engineered the observatory so that all critical subsystems have a backup or will degrade gracefully with age. For instance, the Near Infrared Camera has two identical camera systems so that the optical quality can be maintained even if one fails.

Webb will also contain enough fuel for 10 years of maneuvers. As with Hubble, Chandra, and Spitzer, the Webb science and operations center has the ability to change the operations of the observatory to maximize its scientific potential as it ages.

I see a dark shape when I zoom into the Orion Nebula image. What is it?

It's something called a protoplanetary disk — likely a solar system just forming around a very young star. It's mostly dust and other material in the shape of a thin disk seen edge-on. It is denser than the surrounding nebula and blocks the light from behind, so the disk appears dark against the glowing gas of the nebula. It's something like what our solar system might have looked like billions of years ago when the Sun was just forming. Many of these objects have been observed by Hubble in the Orion Nebula.

Where can I get posters, prints, slides or transparencies of Hubble images?

Electronic versions of our press release images are available free of charge via our Web sites. These images may be used in accordance with the restrictions outlined in our copyright notice, which can be reviewed at http://hubblesite.org/copyright/.

Hubblesite's Gallery section offers a feature called "Astronomy Printshop," which provides images and instructions on how to easily print them out at a photo store, photo kiosk, or online photolab. You can also use your home printer.

Many vendors offer Hubble images and related products for sale. Hubble images and products are widely available wherever you can find space-related products, such as your local science center or planetarium. We do not directly sell Hubble images or products, and we are restricted from recommending or listing vendors that do.

Many of the images taken by Hubble are never formally released to the public and are typically only of interest to the scientific community. Full access to these data, which can be processed into viewable images, is available online via the Hubble Data Archive at http://archive.stsci.edu. The archive's mission is to serve the scientific community. It may not be useful to or easily operated by the general user.

 

Can Hubble see the Apollo landing sites on the Moon?

No, Hubble cannot take photos of the Apollo landing sites.

An object on the Moon 4 meters (4.37 yards) across, viewed from HST, would be about 0.002 arcsec in size. The highest resolution instrument currently on HST is the Advanced Camera for Surveys at 0.03 arcsec. So anything we left on the Moon cannot be resolved in any HST image. It would just appear as a dot.

Here is a picture that Hubble took of the Moon:
http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/1999/14/

Can Hubble take pictures of Earth?

The surface of the Earth is whizzing by as Hubble orbits, and the pointing system, designed to track the distant stars, cannot track an object on the Earth. The shortest exposure time on any of the Hubble instruments is 0.1 seconds, and in this time Hubble moves about 700 meters, or almost half a mile. So a picture Hubble took of Earth would be all streaks.

To find images of Earth from other sources in space go to The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of the Earth: http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/sseop/

 

Can I get a star named after someone I know?

The International Astronomical Union is the only sanctioned body that has the authority to name celestial bodies. Any names that you or any commercial enterprise should care to attach to a celestial body would not be recognized, nor would they be used by the astronomical community in technical journals, etc. Naming conventions for both solar system and deep space objects are strictly adhered to.

For more information on this subject, you can go to the International Astronomical Union Web site at:
http://www.iau.org/public_press/themes/buying_star_names/

Can we see live photos from Hubble?

There is no "real time" camera or Web cam on board the telescope for live relay links. The images that the Hubble takes are digital pictures and spectra released to the public after one year (to allow the investigators time to do their research).

The data, which are transmitted from the telescope in digital form, needs to be converted from this digitized information by computers into black-and-white photos. These are then enhanced to discern details in the images.

For more detailed information on how the telescope and its instruments operate, visit HubbleSite's Nuts & Bolts.

Does Hubble withhold information from the public?

No. Information and images taken by Hubble Space Telescope are not withheld, but they do take time to get to the public.

Many of the images taken by Hubble are never formally released to the public because they are typically only of interest to the scientific community. Full access to these data, which can be processed into viewable images, is available online via the Hubble Data Archive. The archive's mission is to serve the scientific community. It may not be useful to or easily operated by the general user.

Hubble images produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute are covered by copyright law, as stated on our Web site at http://hubblesite.org/copyright/. This copyright covers most images displayed on all of our Web sites.

Here is the scoop on why it takes time to get the photos out to the public.

The areas of the sky and the objects that Hubble's various optical and spectrographic cameras take pictures of are very carefully planned and scheduled. Scientists from universities and scientific institutions prepare proposals to use the telescope. If their proposal is accepted, time on the telescope is scheduled. Once the scientists have their raw data from the telescope, they then have one year in which to conduct their research and prepare papers. After this one year, the information becomes available to the public.

Sometimes “Early Release Observations” are released to the public, as is the case when a new instrument is installed. Photos are then released as soon as possible after the installation to let the world know that the camera is performing up to its expectations.

If you would like to see a "scrapbook" of photos, as they look when they are "translated" from the original digitalized pixels sent from the instruments aboard the Hubble, you can see them at the MAST Scrapbook:
http://archive.stsci.edu/scrapbook.php

Again, these are photos that have become available after the one-year grace period for the astronomers.

Are the colors in Hubble images real?

There are no "natural color" cameras aboard the Hubble and never have been. The optical cameras on board have all been digital CCD cameras, which take images as grayscale pixels.

Sometimes the color is as natural as possible. However, the color given to the images is not just "artistic embellishment." The images are, indeed, downloaded as black and white, and color is added for a number of different reasons – for example, to show the dispersion detail of chemical elements and highlight features so subdued that the human eye cannot see them.

For more information, read The Meaning of Color on HubbleSite, which explains in detail how color is added to images.

What are you hiding by not showing us the upper right corner of the images?

The strange, stair-shaped images come from the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, or WFPC2. WFPC2 consists of four cameras, each of which takes a picture of a section of the target. It's like taking four pictures of a single scene, then putting them together to create the whole picture.

But one of WFPC2's cameras takes a magnified view of the section it's observing, to allow us to study that section in finer detail. When the images are processed, that magnified section is shrunk down to the same size as the other sections, so that it fits into the image.

For a more thorough explanation for the stair-stepped shape of the Hubble photos, visit our Web site.

Read Hubble's Wacky Window on HubbleSite.

How can I get more information on planets, stars, nebulae, galaxies, extra-solar planets, black holes, etc.?

We suggest one of the following Internet sites, which are available to answer astronomy and science questions:

Ask an Astrophysicist — Dedicated especially to questions about black holes, quasars, dark matter, etc.

Curious About Astronomy? Ask an Astronomer! — Hosted by Cornell University.

The Astronomy Café — Hosted by Dr. Sten Oldenwald.

Ask An Astronomer at Lick Observatory.

Nick Strobel’s Astronomy Notes — A “Do-It-Yourself Astronomy 101” course for everyone.

The Electronic Sky — An excellent source for information for beginners.

The Nine Planets — Solar System information.

The Educational Observatory — More information for the beginner.

Students for Exploration and Development of Space — Resources designed by students for students.

What is the Hubble Space Telescope?

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is a space-based telescope that was launched in 1990 by the space shuttle. From its position 353 miles (569 km) above Earth’s surface, the HST has expanded our understanding of star birth, star death, and galaxy evolution, and has helped move black holes from theory to fact. In its first 15 years, the telescope recorded over 700,000 images.

Hubble's view is so spectacular because of its location above Earth's atmosphere. Shifting pockets of air distort light from space — that's why stars seem to twinkle when viewed from the ground. Furthermore, the atmosphere blocks some wavelengths of light partially or entirely, making space the only place where it is possible to get a truly clear and comprehensive view of the universe.

Hubble's large mirror collects light from celestial objects and directs it to the telescope's instruments, the astronomer’s eyes to the universe. Hubble's current instruments are the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS), Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS), Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS), and Fine Guidance Sensors (FGS).

These are not the only instruments that have flown aboard Hubble. The telescope was designed to be visited periodically by astronauts, who bring new instruments and technology, and make repairs. Perhaps the most famous of these servicing missions is the first, in 1993. After its 1990 launch, Hubble's primary mirror was discovered to be out of shape on the edges by 1/50 of a human hair. This very small defect made it difficult to focus faint objects being viewed by Hubble. Astronauts installed corrective optics on the telescope, fixing the flawed vision. Four more astronaut visits would follow, each boosting Hubble's observatory capabilities.

HubbleSite and STScI are not responsible for content found outside of hubblesite.org and stsci.edu

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