By William Rees | Independent Television News
The Hubble Space Telescope has been studying the stars and galaxies around us for about 25 years. But NASA discovered it was able to snag a closer look at something else as well— its own habitat. The final Hubble science results on its orbiting mission are now out and one main discovery is that far away, even billions of light years away, these gas worlds have an allure.
Hubble has always used a separate camera and telescope to study planets that are closer in, but now in the Hubble Space Telescope mission, it observed gas planets far beyond what had been seen before. NASA scientists have made two new discoveries this past month and they have two very familiar names. First, astronomers have discovered the first two planet candidates orbiting a massive star.
This information has proved so exciting for scientists that they have named the new planet-hunting companions “Tatooine” and “Darth Vader.” Our beloved 1977 movie “Star Wars: A New Hope” has many characters in it that take note to grow up to be Jedi knights. One of the most popular is R2-D2. R2-D2 plays an essential role in the famous scene in “A New Hope” when Luke Skywalker is sweeping through the station of the Death Star.
The other new discovery has astronomers seeing six, seven and even more odd dwarf planets in our Milky Way galaxy lurking in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The Milky Way galaxy is actually hundreds of light years away from Earth, with its furthest region between us and Andromeda being about 30 light years away. But scientists are confident they have located the stars by observing “taggregaters,” so named because they show the stars as moving through a darker region of the cloud of dust.
Many astronomers think these dwarf planets are smaller than Mars, but their orbits have so far been baffling because they appeared on other galaxies but not ours. So far, even the most distant dwarf planets are too far away to be monitored by Hubble or any other telescopes. But then, scientists have not confirmed their orbits. With astronomers studying up to more than eight hundred other galaxies and finding new dwarf planets all the time, a new system is just waiting to be found.
One last interesting Hubble discovery, because of NASA’s reason to perform a more scientific study about its environment in space, it caught up with the oldest known planets in our own galaxy. Scientists discovered planets orbiting the giant asteroid Vesta more than 3 billion years ago. But not any other orbital planets have been discovered yet. The Voyager Discovery Orbiter has discovered bodies in our solar system 4.5 billion years old, but this is the first discovery of what NASA is calling “the so-called early universe.”