Experiencing Hubble: Understanding the Greatest Images of the Universe
Dr. David M. Meyer is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Northwestern University, where he is also Director of the Dearborn Observatory and Co-Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics. He earned his B.S. in Astrophysics from the University of Wisconsin, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles. He continued his studies as a Robert R. McCormick Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago's Enrico Fermi Institute before joining the Northwestern faculty. Professor Meyer's research focuses on the spectroscopic study of interstellar and extragalactic gas clouds-work carried out over the past 15 years with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope. Along with his collaborators, Professor Meyer has conducted 20 research projects with Hubble, resulting in 25 peer-reviewed publications. He has also served five times on the committee that annually selects the most deserving proposals for Hubble observing time. During his career at Northwestern, Professor Meyer has specialized in designing and teaching introductory undergraduate courses in astronomy, cosmology, and astro-biology for non-science majors. His many teaching awards include the Charles Deering McCormick Professorship of Teaching Excellence, Northwestern's highest teaching honor. Beyond campus, Professor Meyer has delivered popular talks on Hubble to young and old in settings as far-flung as a transatlantic crossing.
01: The Rationale for a Space Telescope
Begin your exploration of the scientific stories behind 10 of the most fascinating images made by the Hubble Space Telescope. In this lecture, learn about Hubble's design and how its operations were almost cut short by a flaw in its mirror, a problem corrected during a space shuttle servicing mission.
02: Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 and Jupiter
Shortly after its optics were repaired, Hubble had the opportunity to observe the solar system event of the century: the collision of a string of comets with Jupiter in 1994. Examine Hubble's stunning image of the aftermath of this crash.
03: The Sagittarius Star Cloud
Hubble's view of a tiny region of the Sagittarius Star Cloud has an astonishing 12,000 stars. Study this dazzling image and learn how its unprecedented resolution is helping to chart the stellar history and evolution of the Milky Way galaxy.
04: The Star Factory inside the Eagle Nebula
Explore the most iconic Hubble photo of all: the glowing pillars of gas and dust at the core of the Eagle Nebula. Resembling a fantasy landscape, this view shows young stars emerging from their cocoons of gas and dust in an interstellar molecular cloud.
05: The Cat's Eye Nebula-A Stellar Demise
Turning from star birth to star death, get a preview of the sun's distant future by examining the Cat's Eye Nebulae. Such planetary nebulae (which have nothing to do with planets) are the exposed debris of dying stars and are among the most beautiful objects in the Hubble gallery.
06: The Crab Nebula-A Supernova's Aftermath
Stars more than eight times as massive as the sun take a radically different path at the end of their lives, disintegrating in a colossal explosion known as a supernova. Hubble's image of the famous Crab Nebula shows the expanding cloud of material from a supernova that was witnessed on Earth in the year 1054.
07: The Sombrero Galaxy-An Island Universe
In the 1920s, astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered the true nature of galaxies as "island universes." Some 80 years later, the telescope named in his honor has made thousands of breathtaking pictures of galaxies. Focus on one in particular-an edge-on view of the striking Sombrero galaxy.
08: Hubble's View of Galaxies Near and Far
Hubble's image of the nearby galaxy NGC 3370 includes many faint galaxies in the background, exemplifying the telescope's mission to establish an accurate distance scale to galaxies near and far-along with the related expansion rate of the universe. Discover how Hubble's success has led to the concept of dark energy.
09: The Antennae Galaxies-A Cosmic Collision
A pair of interacting galaxies called the Antennae represent Hubble's most dramatic snapshot of a galactic collision. Learn how such events unfold over the course of millions of years and how the nearby Andromeda galaxy will have a similar encounter with our own Milky Way in the far distant future.
10: Abell 2218-A Massive Gravitational Lens
One of the consequences of Einstein's general theory of relativity is evident in Hubble's picture of the galaxy cluster Abell 2218. Investigate the physics of this phenomenon, called gravitational lensing, and discover how Hubble has used it to study extremely distant galaxies as well as dark matter.
11: The Hubble Ultra Deep Field
Completing your tour of 10 remarkable Hubble images, plunge into the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, the deepest optical image of the cosmos made to date. This extraordinary view shows 10,000 galaxies extending far beyond the Milky Way and back to the epoch of galaxy formation.
12: Hubble's Legacy and Beyond
Finish the course by looking at the future of Hubble and the next generation of space telescopes. Focus in particular on the search for extrasolar planets, how they are found, and the role Hubble and other telescopes play in extending our knowledge of possibly earthlike worlds.