One image can give over 100 times the data we now get from Hubble.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, revealed the previously unseen Universe.
Its large aperture, excellent instrumentation, and location in space enabled ultra-distant views.
Iconically, Hubble’s deep field images best showcase its capabilities.
By repeatedly pointing its “eye” on a single region, it compiles photons one-at-a-time from the distant Universe.
Through multi-wavelength observations, Hubble uncovered thousands of the Universe’s most distant objects.
Viewing larger regions, Hubble’s Frontier Fields campaign was also revolutionary.
Gravitation from distant, massive galaxy clusters magnifies and distorts light from background galaxies.
Even today, Hubble remains astronomy’s best space-based optical observatory.
Many often ask, “why don’t we just build another Hubble?”
For the same price, current technology enables superior options.
NASA’s post-James Webb flagship will be the Nancy Grace Roman Telescope.
Formerly known as WFIRST, it’s similarly Hubble-sized, but with much wider fields-of-view.
Roman could create images with Hubble-like depth, but spanning over 100 times Hubble’s viewing area.
Instead of thousands of ultra-distant galaxies, a single deep-field campaign will uncover millions.
They will include the faintest, most distant, most active galaxies ever discovered.
Its Wide-Field Instrument might, upon launch, become astronomy’s greatest imager in history.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.
Starts With A Bang is written by Ethan Siegel, Ph.D., author of Beyond The Galaxy, and Treknology: The Science of Star Trek from Tricorders to Warp Drive.