[imagesource: Hubble Space Telescope]
The Hubble Space Telescope has reached a milestone.
It was launched on April 24, 1990, and has now entered its 30s.
Over the last three decades, the telescope has brought us some iconic images of the universe.
Thanks to Hubble we now know that our galaxy is just one of many hundreds of billions in the universe. Because Hubble is able to study such distant galaxies, it can tell scientists more about the expansion of the universe. Studying these galaxies also helped scientists get an idea of the approximate age of the universe: about 13.8 billion years old.
The image above is the most recent taken by the telescope, shared to mark the anniversary of its launch. It shows two nebulas, both named the ‘cosmic reef’.
When stars are born or when they die, they often shed material with such great force that it molds and shapes the environment around the star, creating a nebula. Some nebulas are created by the death of a singular star, while others are existing interstellar dust and gas that function as stellar nurseries for young stars. Some of the most famous nebulas are in the shape of horseheads, crabs, and other fanciful objects.
I’m sure there’s a Lady Gaga/ Bradley Cooper joke in there somewhere.
Moving on to a Hubble retrospective.
The 29th-anniversary shot shows the Southern Crab Nebula, thousands of light-years away. The stars circling each other are an ancient red dwarf and a white dwarf.
This image, which looks a lot like the cover of a metal album from the 80s, is the Lagoon Nebula – a stellar nursery located 4 000 light-years away.
These two galaxies are located 55 million light-years away. The one on the left is NGC 4302, with NGC 4298 on the right. I feel like they deserve better names.
The Bubble Nebula is created by the stellar wind coming off a central star (SAO 20575).
Finally, this cluster called Westerlund 2 is a young (only two million years old) section of our very own Milky Way Galaxy.
Happy birthday, Hubble.
Keep up the good work.
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