A former NASA astronaut who helped put the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit now uses the images it captures to conduct research at the University of Kansas.
Physics and astronomy professor Steven Hawley first researched an abnormal planetary nebula called Tololo 26 as a young astronomer, before ever venturing beyond earth. Besides helping to put the Hubble into orbit, he also replaced a few failed components in a later shuttle mission.
Now done flying shuttle missions, his research on the planetary nebula has resumed. Planetary nebulas are the colorful remnants of dying stars.
Hawley says another astronomer used the Hubble telescope to study a comparable object and determined it likely was two stars.
Hawley suspects that Tololo 26 is two stars as well. Images expected in February could provide answers.
Harley, who is the director of engineering and physics at the University of Kansas grew up in Salina and graduated from Salina High School.