Wednesday, October 27, 2010

10,000 years ahead

       On Tuesday, the history of the exciting world of space and astronomy crossed an important milesteone when data from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was released ,which established that it was used to look 10,000 years into the future.

       According to the Space Telescope Science Institute which manages Hubble, the globular star cluster called Omega Centauri, located at a distance of 16,000 light years away, first catalogued by the ancient astronomer, Ptolemy, 2000 years ago, was initially thought to be a single star. But an analysis of Hubble data showed that it was actually a beehive swarm of nearly 10 million stars.

      Omega Centauri is one of roughly 150 star clusters in the Milky Way galaxy and is the biggest and brightest cluster which can be observed by an aided eye.

      The stars are so tightly crammed together that astronomers had to wait for the HST to peep deep into the core of the beehive and resolve the individual stars. It took four years to analyse the data provided by Hubble's advanced camera for surveys. Astronomers have made the most accurate measurements yet of the motions of more than 100,000 cluster inhabitants, stated to be the largest survey to date to study the movement of stars in any cluster.

      Finding them is comparable to a massive archealogical exercise. The significance of the Hubble's discovery was that what once appeared to be single was separated by the telescope. This will now allow scientists and astronomers to delve deep into what they call as ``stellar islands,'' which in turn is expected to provide a deep insight into the formation of the universe.

      Astronomer, Jay Anderson, of the institute has been quoted as saying: ``It takes high speed sophisticated computer programmes to measure the tiny shifts in the position of the stars that occur in only four years' time.''


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