Hubble Space Telescope: Mission Update

The data collected from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) today is of such good quality that researchers are solving 25- to 30-year-old astrophysical questions with as few as one photograph. For example, Figure 1 shows the HST image of the compact blue cluster at the center of the giant ionized hydrogen region 30 Doradus (the Tarantula nebula). For 25 years, astronomers have written research papers about the star at the center of this gigantic nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Some even said that it could be a single object of 3000 solar masses. The first to show that this was possibly a compact cluster was G. Weigelt1 and G. Baier who found eight stars within a diameter of one arcsec. They took 8000 holographic speckle interferograms using two telescopes at the European Southern Observatory in Chile and, after considerable computer processing, were able to show a reconstructed image with resolution 0.09 arcsec.

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