DR EMILY BALDWIN
Posted: 23 February, 2009
Members of the public have one week left to determine where to point modern astronomy’s most famous telescope.
“Hubble’s Next Discovery - You Decide” is part of the International Year of Astronomy’s (IYA) goal to engage the public in all things astronomy related. People around the world will have the opportunity to vote for one of six objects never before viewed by Hubble, from planetary nebula to merging galaxies and star-forming regions.
You decide which object Hubble will see! Running order correct as of Monday 23 Feb, 1600 GMT.
Currently in first place is Arp 274, a pair of interacting galaxies drawn together by their gravity. The spiral shapes of the galaxies are still largely intact, but gravitational distortions are being stirred up inside them. Star-forming region NGC 6334 is also up for consideration. It is a giant cloud of gas and dust, collapsing to create thousands of newborn stars. Young stars emit high-energy radiation that causes the remaining gas to glow. Two spiral galaxies and two planetary nebula make up the other choices. Planetary nebulae are the shells shed by a dying star - and lend themselves to being imaged by Hubble, which can pick up the intricacies of the shells’ structures in great detail.
The choice is yours as to which one Hubble sees in new light. Vote online at http://youdecide.hubblesite.org/ by 1 March. The winning image will be released during the IYA’s week of 100 hours of astronomy, between 2 and 5 April.
100 hours of astronomy is one of the IYA's Cornerstone Projects consisting of a wide range of public outreach activities, research centre podcasts and sidewalk astronomy events. One of the key goals is to encourage as many people as possible to look through a telescope as Galileo did 400 years ago. For more information on IYA events visit www.astronomy2009.org