25 Years of Breathtaking Deep Space Photographs from Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into deep space in 1990, sending us spectacular images defying our wildest imaginations.

“Pillars of Creation”

One of Hubble’s most famous images, “Pillars of Creation” was taken by the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 in 1995 showing stars forming in the Eagle Nebula.

Image Credit: NASA/ESA

“Pillars of Creation”

In 2014, Hubble photographed the Eagle Nebula again using the more powerful Wide Field Camera 3. The updated image shows the 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.

Image Credit: NASA/ESA

Stellar spire in the Eagle Nebula

Appearing like a winged fairy-tale creature, the soaring tower is 9.5 light-years or about 57 trillion miles high, about twice the distance from our sun to the next nearest star.

This object is actually a billowing tower of cold gas and dust rising from the stellar nursery called the Eagle Nebula.

Image Credit: NASA/ESA

Majestic Sombrero Galaxy

The Hubble Space Telescope captured this stunning view of one of the universe’s most stately and photogenic galaxies, the Sombrero, also known as Messier 104 (M104).

The galaxy’s hallmark is a brilliant white, bulbous core encircled by the thick dust lanes comprising the spiral structure of the galaxy. Tilted nearly edge-on as seen from Earth, the Sombrero is 50,000 light-years across and is located 28 million light-years away.

Image Credit: NASA/ESA

Fireworks

In this image, released for Hubble’s 25th anniversary, a “brilliant tapestry” of young stars calls to mind a cosmic fireworks show – “a fitting image for our celebration of 25 years of amazing Hubble science,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

The sparkling centerpiece of Hubble’s silver anniversary fireworks is a giant cluster of about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2. The cluster is only about 2 million years old and contains some of our galaxy’s hottest, brightest, and most massive stars.

Image Credit: NASA/ESA

Lagoon Nebula

This Hubble Space Telescope image reveals a pair of one-half-light-year long interstellar ‘twisters’ – eerie funnels and twisted-rope structures – in the heart of the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8) which lies 5,000 light-years away in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.

Image Credit: NASA/ESA

Supernova

At the turn of the 19th century, the binary star system Eta Carinae was faint and undistinguished.

In the first decades of the century, it became brighter and brighter, until, by April 1843, it was the second brightest star in the sky.

The larger of the two stars in the Eta Carinae system is a huge and unstable star that is nearing the end of its life. The event observed in the 19th century was a stellar near-death experience. Scientists call these outbursts supernova impostor events, because they appear similar to supernovae, but stop just short of destroying their star.

Image Credit: NASA/ESA

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