New techniques help space telescope study planetary atmospheres, cosmic acceleration
NASA, ESA, S. Perlmutter/LBNL/UC Berkeley, A. Koekemoer/STScI, M. Postman/STScI, A. Riess/JHU, J. Nordin/LBNL/UC Berkeley, D. Rubin/Florida StateUniv., C. McCully/Rutgers Univ.
BALTIMORE — A technique for sniffing around in the atmospheres of supersized planets near super bright stars could also help the Hubble Space Telescope unravel the history of the universe.
Hubble scientists developed a way to slowly scan the sky while collecting starlight so the telescope could explore the neighborhoods of stars that would otherwise be too bright for its sensitive detectors. It turns out that this trick also enables astronomers to measure distances to nearby stars with unprecedented precision, helping to zero in on the expansion rate of the universe and why it’s picking up speed.
This surprising connection is just one revelation to come out of a four-day symposium at Hubble’s headquarters, the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. Astronomers gathered there April 20–23 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the orbiting observatory, which rocketed into space