NASA recently celebrated 32 years of Hubble observations. The space telescope was launched in 1990. Since its launch, it has managed to complete more than 1.4 million observations. Now, a physicist named Casey Handmer has combined all these observations into one stunning picture.
This is what Hubble’s 1.4 million comments look like
Handmer shared the image on Twitter back in April. He initially divided it into four parts. However, he later added another tweet with all of Hubble’s comments linked.
The piece is absolutely amazing and a strong reminder of how big the sky really is beyond us. In fact, Handmer says Hubble has not even been able to observe as much of the sky as you might think.
“Hubble’s field of vision is 202 arcseconds,” Huntmer explained on Twitter. Therefore, he says it will take about 3.2 million observations to completely cover the sky. At that time, more than 1.4 million Hubble comments had been completed. Therefore, the telescope must have recorded at least half of the sky, right?
Not exactly. While Hubble has received more than 1.4 million views, it often observes an area multiple times. Curious about how much Hubble has actually seen, Handmer gathered data from Astropy.org and began compiling it into an image. Overall, he says Hubble has only seen about 0.8% of the sky so far.
Why has Hubble seen so little?
If Hubble has already completed half the observations it would take to cover the sky, why have so few been observed? Well, there are several reasons. First, NASA did not design Hubble to conduct large-scale research. Therefore, the observations he has made are much more focused. Some parts of the sky are more interesting than others.
Some Hubble remarks may also take longer than others, Handmer explained. And that does not even take into account the number of repeated observations in interesting areas. No matter how you cut it, though, the point is that NASA did not design Hubble to map the entire sky. Instead, the agency designed it to capture snapshots of specific places. To study our universe in depth.
Its purpose was to function as a way of studying specific points of interest in the night sky. These points of interest include things like black holes, colliding galaxies, and other celestial anomalies that can help us understand more about our universe.
If you look at the picture above, it gives a great idea of what kind of Hubble comments have been completed so far. And, if you follow the curved line through the center, you can actually see a representation of repetitive observations made through the Solar System.
Even though Hubble has explored so little of our sky, seeing this image and all of Hubble’s observations together is almost shocking. In just the last 32 years, humanity has made huge strides in learning about the universe beyond our tiny planet.
And, with new instruments like the James Webb Telescope, these steps will no doubt continue in the future.