Science Behind the Discoveries

Indulge your curiosity and dive into the fundamental science that is the foundation of Hubble’s observations. Discover how Hubble uses different wavelengths of light to reveal much more information than the human eye can see, then explore the individual components of that light as you learn about spectroscopy. Finally, learn how these pieces are brought together to create Hubble’s iconic images.

Quick Facts

In a Different Light

Learn how Hubble uses different wavelengths of light to explore the universe.

Human eyes are sensitive to a small portion of available light called the visible spectrum. Hubble sees that visible light as well, but it also goes beyond visible wavelengths and delves into the infrared and ultraviolet parts of the spectrum. Learn how Hubble uses those different wavelengths of light to explore the universe.

Learn More
Hubble observations of Carina Nebula section
Dubbed “Mystic Mountain,” this is a small portion of the Carina Nebula. The image features towers of cool hydrogen gas laced with dust. Brilliant nearby stars are eating away at the three-light-year-tall pillar. The pillar is also pushed apart from within, as infant stars buried inside fire off jets of gas that stream left and right from its peak.
NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)
visible , Three giant pillars of rusty colored dust and gas with a blueish green background.
infrared , Star-filled view with faint outlines of gas clouds.

Visible & infrared

Revealing More Cosmic Landscapes

Many will recognize this popular image of a portion of the Eagle Nebula, but there's also a lesser-known second image that reveals more about this cosmic landscape. Move the slider from left to right to reveal the image in visible and infrared light.

Time Travel: Observing Cosmic History

Learn how Hubble can act as a time machine revealing distant cosmic objects as they appeared in the past.

Light takes time to reach Hubble, because it travels great distances. That means images captured by Hubble today, show what the objects looked like years ago!

Learn More
A collection of galaxies. On the right side a large spiral galaxy with swirling, twisted arms is flanked by a smaller, but still detailed, spiral behind its arm on the left, and a smaller spiral above it. On the left side is a fourth, round spiral galaxy seen face-on. Between them lies a single bright star. Several stars and distant galaxies dot the background.
This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope features a richness of spiral galaxies: the large, prominent spiral galaxy on the right side of the image is NGC 1356; the two apparently smaller spiral galaxies flanking it are LEDA 467699 (above it) and LEDA 95415 (very close at its left) respectively; and finally, IC 1947 sits along the left side of the image.
ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Dalcanton, Dark Energy Survey/DOE/FNAL/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA; Acknowledgment: L. Shatz

Creating Hubble Images

Hubble's iconic images are more than pretty pictures. Discover how image processers use Hubble's data to create the gorgeous images we know and love.

Nature's Boost: Gravitational Lenses

Learn how gravity boosts Hubble's view of the universe.

The gravity of massive objects warps space and time, creating a lens that provides astronomers with a powerful tool to extend our view into previously unseen regions of the universe.

Learn More
Black background is dotted with distant galaxies. Image center holds a cluster of galaxies, many of the appear to be large elliptical galaxies. Curved orange-yellow lines appear to cut through the galaxy cluster. These are more distant galaxies gravitationally lensed by the cluster.
This extraordinary Hubble image of the galaxy cluster Abell 2813 spectacularly demonstrates gravitational lensing. The tiny dots, spirals, and ovals are galaxies that belong to the cluster. Abell 2813's gravity is acting as a lens, distorting and magnifying light of galaxies beyond Abell 2813 into crescents and s-shaped curves.
ESA/Hubble & NASA, D. Coe