Highlights of the Hubble Space Telescope
In the three years since its deployment, the Hubble Space Telescope has been utilized for a broad range of astrophysical studies. Approximately 5000 targets have been observed, with the resulting data filling 500 Gbytes of the HST archives at the ST ScI, ST ECF, and CADC. Even with their much publicized spherical aberration, the HST optics have yielded optical and UV images of unsurpassed resolution. The ring about SN 1987A, the environs of NGC 1275, blue stragglers deep in the cores of globular clusters, and the remarkable structures in Eta Carina are some of the better known examples of bright astronomical sources in which the stability of the HST point spread function permits almost complete image restoration and the full HST resolution to be realized. By revealing new morphological information for faint and diffuse targets such the high redshift cluster of galaxies, CL 0939+4713, and the cores of radio galaxies, HST has essentially met its original promise of qualitatively changing our understanding of these objects. Similarly, the Faint Object Spectrograph and Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph have been utilized in every major discipline: solar system studies, the interstellar medium, hot and cool stars, and distant galaxies and active nuclei. The goals of the first shuttle servicing mission are to restore HST’s original optical performance and to repair and replace several spacecraft systems, such as gyros and the solar arrays. Several of the most challenging scientific HST programs, such as the determination of the Hubble constant and the imaging of clusters of galaxies at z = 1, await the success of the December 1993 servicing mission.
Key wordsHubble Space Telescope high resolution imaging ultraviolet spectroscopy
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