Hubble's scientific bounty has benefited a wide range of astronomical and astrophysical fields, including the study of planets, moons and small icy bodies in the outer solar system and the cosmological history of the universe. Here's a look at a few of Hubble's greatest hits.
While scientists have published nearly 13,000 papers on Hubble-related studies, one topic earned researchers the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics. In a pair of related investigations, astrophysicists Saul Perlmutter, with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Brian Schmidt, with the Australian National University, and Adam Riess, with Johns Hopkins University, discovered that the speed with which the universe is expanding is increasing.
PHOTO: Stunning Hubble Silver Anniversary Picture Unveiled
The still-unexplained phenomenon, which would be akin to throwing a ball up in the air and having it pick up speed and keep going, is referred to as "dark energy." Scientists used Hubble and ground-based telescopes to inventory a type of exploding star that puts out the same amount and type of radiation wherever it is found. The supernova can serve as a yardstick, since like a line of streetlamps, the closer ones will appear brighter than the lights of the same brightness that are farther away. Hubble has found these "standard candle" supernovas in nearby and very distant galaxies.