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OH, STAR STUFF’S HUBBLE FAVORITES

Over the past 25 years, Hubble has made more than 1.2 million observations and generated a staggering 100 terabytes of data. Narrowing down my favorite image is nearly impossible but I’ve managed to highlight a few.

The Eagle Nebula
I’m not sure Hubble has produced a more majestic image than this one of the Eagle Nebula. This image shows the famous “Pillars of Creation” and the nebula’s multi-colored glow of gas clouds, wispy tendrils of dark cosmic dust, and the rust-colored elephants’ trunks of the nebula’s famous pillars. The dust and gas in the pillars is seared by the intense radiation from young stars and eroded by strong winds from massive nearby stars. 

Hubble Ultra Deep Field
Peering back to nearly the beginning of time, this image shakes me at my core and illustrates the unimaginable vastness of the cosmos. This view of nearly 10,000 galaxies is the deepest visible-light image of the cosmos. Called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, this galaxy-studded view represents a "deep” core sample of the universe, cutting across billions of light-years. The snapshot includes galaxies of various ages, sizes, shapes, and colors. The smallest, reddest galaxies, about 100, may be among the most distant known, existing when the universe was just 800 million years old.

The Antennae
The galaxies — also known as NGC 4038 and NGC 4039 — are locked in a deadly embrace. Once spiral galaxies similar to our own Milky Way, the pair have spent the past few hundred million years sparring with one another. This clash is so violent that stars have been ripped from their host galaxies to form a streaming arc between the two. Clouds of gas are seen in bright pink and red, surrounding the bright flashes of blue star-forming regions — some of which are partially obscured by dark patches of dust. The rate of star formation is so high that the Antennae Galaxies are said to be in a state of starburst, a period in which all of the gas within the galaxies is being used to form stars. This is a preview of what might happen when our Milky Way galaxy collides with the approaching Andromeda galaxy in a few billion years. 

The Tarantula Nebula
About 170,000 light-years away, is a turbulent star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud called the Tarantula Nebula. It is close to Earth that Hubble can make out individual stars. It is home to many extreme conditions including supernova remnants and the heaviest star ever found, R136a1. The Tarantula Nebula is the most luminous nebula of its type in the local Universe as a result of the raucous stellar breeding ground located at its heart known as 30 Doradus.

Helix Nebula
The Helix Nebula, located 690 light-years from Earth, is a ball of glowing gas expelled from a dying sun-like star. This image is a composite of a photograph taken by Hubble in 2002 and one by a telescope in Chile in 2003. The object is so large that both telescopes were needed to capture a complete view. It resembles a simple doughnut as seen from Earth but new evidence suggests that the Helix consists of two gaseous disks nearly perpendicular to each other.

On April 24, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into orbit.

“No matter what Hubble reveals — planets, dense star fields, colorful interstellar nebulae, deadly black holes, graceful colliding galaxies, the large-scale structure of the Universe — each image establishes your own private vista on the cosmos.” - Neil deGrasse Tyson

NASA Celebrates The Hubble Telescope’s 25th Birthday With Gorgeous Photos Of Space Fireworks

Happy birthday, Hubble!
The celebrated space telescope turns 25 on Friday. To mark the anniversary, NASA set the instrument loose to gaze at some fireworks – that is, space fireworks. Hubble captured the spectacular photos of stars being born in “Westerlund 2,” a cluster of 3,000 stars that is in Gum 29, which NASA describes as a “raucous stellar breeding ground” in the constellation Carina.

Happy Birthday Hubble Telescope!

A stellar nursery of about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2 located about 20,000 light-years from the planet earth in the constellation Carina is shown in this image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, released to celebrate the silver anniversary of Hubble’s launch

Westerlund 2

The giant star cluster is about 2 million years old and contains some of our galaxy’s hottest, brightest and most massive stars. Some of its heftiest stars unleash torrents of ultraviolet light and hurricane-force winds of charged particles etching into the enveloping hydrogen gas cloud.

The nebula reveals a fantasy landscape of pillars, ridges and valleys. The pillars, composed of dense gas and thought to be incubators for new stars, are a few light-years tall and point to the central star cluster. Other dense regions surround the pillars, including reddish-brown filaments of gas and dust.

The brilliant stars sculpt the gaseous terrain of the nebula and help create a successive generation of baby stars. When the stellar winds hit dense walls of gas, the shockwaves may spark a new torrent of star birth along the wall of the cavity. The red dots scattered throughout the landscape are a rich population of newly-forming stars still wrapped in their gas-and-dust cocoons. These tiny, faint stars are between 1 million and 2 million years old – relatively young stars – that have not yet ignited the hydrogen in their cores. The brilliant blue stars seen throughout the image are mostly foreground stars.

The image’s central region, which contains the star cluster, blends visible-light data taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys with near-infrared exposures taken by the Wide Field Camera 3. The surrounding region is composed of visible-light observations taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys. Shades of red represent hydrogen and bluish-green hues are predominantly oxygen.