YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Hubble Telescope is back online.
It was sidelined by a computer glitch for over a month and its camera eye was closed. And that put YSU professor Dr. Patrick Durrell in a bit of a panic.
“When it had computer problems last month, I was sitting here, I’m still hoping to get data,” Durrell said.
Every year, Durrell routinely writes proposals to collaborate with colleagues and friends to apply for time with the telescope.
Durrell got notice last week that two projects he was on received time with Hubble from the thousands of ideas submitted.
He was just waiting for the telescope to be fixed, and it resumed operations last Saturday.
“It’s wonderful from a science point of view but also a personal point of view, I’m like yes!” he said.
Both projects will look at dwarf galaxies.
Durrell wants to understand them a little more. He says they’re close enough you can see some of the stars and star clusters in them, and you can see them in more detail with Hubble.
He believes it’s important to understand how galaxies formed in all sizes.
“If we take a patch of sky, there’s a few big, big galaxies, a few more Milky Way-sized galaxies and then lots of these little dwarf galaxies. So how do they fit in?” Durrell asks.
Hubble has been orbiting Earth since 1990. It’s the length of a bus and travels five miles every second.
It’s been used to check out a galaxy 13 billion light years away.
Durrell will get 15 orbits to have Hubble’s cameras point at the dwarf galaxies to take pictures.
“We need to study, is this a new galaxy making stars now or has it always been there and it’s just been hanging around for 10 billion years? We don’t know until we get the Hubble data,” Durrell said.
The professor expects to get the data some time in the next year to 18 months.