Poll: Where would YOU point the Hubble

February 23, 2009 5:40:29 AM PST
The public can vote for one of six astronomical objects for Hubble to observe. It's part of NASA's observation of the International Year of Astronomy. Hubble has not previously photographed any of them.

The voting runs until March 1st and the candidates are:

  • Star-Forming Region: NGC 6334 is a place where stars are born. Giant clouds of gas and dust in interstellar space collapse, forming thousands of new stars. The hot, young stars emit high-energy radiation that causes the remaining gas to glow. Star-forming regions are some of the most beautiful sights in astronomy.
  • Planetary Nebula: NGC 6072 is called a planetary nebula, but it has nothing to do with planets. The nebula is really all that remains after the death of a star. When medium-sized stars run out of fuel, they shed their outer layers into space -- something like blowing a smoke bubble amongst the stars. At the center rests the dying ember of the core of the star. Planetary nebulae can exhibit amazing and intricate structures.
  • Planetary Nebula: NGC 40 Planetary nebulae, like NGC 40, were orignally thought to be associated with planets forming around a star. We now know that these glowing gas shells are the result of outbursts from a dying star. This nebula is rather bright and appears overexposed in the black and white survey image. A Hubble image of this object would be able to capture the subtle details and gorgeous structure not captured here.
  • Spiral Galaxy: NGC 5172 is a spiral galaxy containing more than a 100 billion stars, along with vast clouds of gas and dust. Within a thin disk, the spiral arms exhibit a pinwheel structure. Along the spiral arms, dark dust clouds collapse to create star-forming regions, leading to bright clusters of new stars. Spiral galaxies can be both colorful and majestic.
  • Edge-on Galaxy: NGC 4289 is a spiral galaxy viewed edge-on to the disk. This means that we can't see the spiral arms -- instead, we can see just how thin the disk is, and examine the dust lanes at the midplane of the disk and the stars that extend above and below it. Edge-on galaxies provide a striking and unusual view of the structure of spiral galaxies.
  • Interacting Galaxies: Arp 274 is a pair of galaxies. Drawn together by their gravity, they are starting to interact. The spiral shapes of these galaxies are mostly intact, but evidence can be seen of the gravitational distortions they are creating within each other. When galaxies interact and merge together, the gas clouds inside them often form tremendous numbers of new stars.

    You can vote on the place to have the Hubble look by clicking this link.

    Also, if you vote, you'll be entered into a drawing to get 1 of 100 copies of the Hubble photograph made of the winning celestial body.

    Hubble is set for a repair mission by space shuttle Atlantis set to launch on May 12, 2009.

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