Robert Roy Britt at Space.com:
After millennia of staring up at the heavens, wondering, humans are now mapping it all in pictures, ultimate Kodak moments that provide vivid close-ups of pinwheels that used to be seen only as bright dots, glimpses inside ethereal stellar wombs, stunning clues to all that is and ever was.
The harvest of scientific information is remarkable. Cosmologists are getting their first looks at events shortly after the Big Bang. Basic laws of physics are being questioned. Planets are being remade before our remote-control eyes.
In fact researchers say much of the data in pictures has yet to be mined, and a new technique called virtual astronomy has emerged, using software to mine old photos for new information.
Earthlings are building a pictorial database of the cosmos faster than they can process it, not to mention a mighty impressive photo album of places they may never visit.
“On a clear day in the universe you can see forever,” says Ray Villard, who should know.
Villard has spent the past decade helping the world see a new universe through the eyes of the Hubble Space Telescope. Villard is the news director for the Space Telescope Science Institute, which operates the telescope.
See the rest of the pictures here. That’s Earth in the picture above, from 4 billion miles away.