In April of this year, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope will celebrate its 30th anniversary. Here are some things we know thanks to Hubble.
On 24 April 1990, the space shuttle Discovery carried the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. The rest is history!
Here are some things the space telescope taught us about the Universe:
Scientists around the world thought the expansion of the universe was slowing down, but when Hubble started to observe it found out the universe was accelerating.
The legendary spacecraft was able to see far off supernovae, thus concluding that the universe wasn’t slowing down at all.
The Space Telescope discovered that when dark energy became dominant, the expansion began speeding up.
The Universe Is 13.7 Billion Years Old
Before Hubble, astronomers had a difficult time pinpointing just how old our universe was.
The fact that galaxies are moving apart means that at some point they must have been close together.
So Hubble was able to determine their speed, distance, and acceleration. And this helped astronomers calculate the age of our universe with unprecedented accuracy, to 13.7 billion years old.
The Oldest Galaxy Ever Seen
Hubble’s incredible optics spotted what is likely the oldest and most distant galaxy in the universe–a galaxy that dates back 13.2 billion years.
The fact that our universe is 13.7 billion years old makes this galaxy a mere infant.
Every Major Galaxy Has A Central Black Hole
30 years ago, astronomers debated whether supermassive black holes actually existed.
But Hubble discovered that supermassive black holes probably lurk in every galaxy that has a bulge of stars at its center.
3-D Map Of Dark Matter
Dark matter makes up about 23 percent of the universe.
Hubble analyzed the distortions caused by dark matter’s gravity on light from distant galaxies. Therefore Hubble helped construct the largest scale 3-D maps scientists have of where dark matter is distributed in the universe.
So Hubble’s findings suggest that dark matter clumps together as it collapses under gravity.